The wood commonly known as Honey Mesquite is known to botanists as Prosopis glandulosa.
P. glandulosa is distributed from California east to Kansas and south to Louisiana, Nuevo Leon, and Baja California. The typical variety of honey mesquite is distributed from southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and Louisiana, and most of Texas west to New Mexico and south to Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Coahuila, Mexico. Western honey mesquite occurs in western Texas, southern New Mexico, southeastern and western Arizona, extreme southwestern Utah, southern Nevada, southern California, and northern Mexico.
For the sake of simplicity and common understanding I will hereafter refer to P. glandulosa as Honey Mesquite.
Honey Mesquite heartwood is usually a reddish brown. The color of the heartwood will darken with age. Honey Mesquite sapwood is yellow in color and tends to be thin.
Honey Mesquite has a medium to coarse texture and open pores, with a slight natural luster. Clear portions of the trunk tend to have straight or wavy grain though knots, defects, and other irregularities are common.
Honey Mesquite is considered very durable in terms of decay resistance.
As is so often the case when working with woods, the quality of the piece in question will largely dictate the outcome. Honey Mesquite that is clear and free from defects is easy to work with hand and machine tools, but irregular grain or knots can be challenging.
Honey Mesquite is known to glue, turn, and finish well.
Honey Mesquite is reported to have no distinctive odor when being worked.
Pricing and Availability:
Mesquite tends to only be available in small sizes or as large irregular slabs. Larger boards free from defects are uncommon. Prices for Honey Mesquite are in the upper range for a domestic hardwood.
In this blog, I almost always recommend several vendors with whom I have done considerable business and in whom I have great confidence. These vendors are: West Penn Hardwoods, Bell Forest Products, NCWood, WoodTurningz, Amazon Exotic Hardwoods, Griffin Exotic Wood, Exotic Woods USA, Got Wood?, and Wood Turning Blanks 4U. Note: ALWAYS green turn wet blanks from NCWood as their wax will not hold for extended drying periods.
None of these fine vendors is currently offering Honey Mesquite. The best bet for locating Honey Mesquite turning stock is to do a simple Internet search. Honey Mesquite is not a commercially harvested wood, so your most likely supplier will be a hobby mill located in the native area.
Woodfinder is an excellent website that is dedicated to advertising wood dealers. In your search for Honey Mesquite, this can be an invaluable resource provided you use multiple search terms to capture all the possible listings. I can’t speak to the quality of any of the listed dealers, but Woodfinder does have the advantage of allowing searches to be performed based on location which might allow an interested buyer to visit a listed wood dealer in person to hand pick pieces at a comfortable price.
A significant problem with using Woodfinder is that many vendors are listed for woods that, upon further investigation, they do not offer. I don’t know if perhaps once they did and they didn’t update their listings or if some vendors use a standardized list of woods that include most everything conceivable with the idea that once you land on their page you will find something you want to buy even if you didn’t know it beforehand. It happens to me all the time!
Honey Mesquite finds a variety of uses, especially in its native areas. These uses include but are probably not limited to: fence posts, flooring, turned objects, cabinetry, and furniture.
Honey Mesquite is not listed as being endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II nor does it appear on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.