During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers. Mesquite beans became “manna from heaven” for the suffering men of the 1841 Texas Santa Fe Expedition said George W. Kendall (quoted by Ken E. Rogers in The Magnificent Mesquite) in his journal. “When our provisions and coffee ran out, the men ate [mesquite beans] in immense quantities, and roasted or boiled them!” During the Civil War, when groceries often ran short, mesquite beans served as passable coffee. Mesquite blooms, pollinated by bees, yield a connoisseur’s honey. Mesquite is the most common shrub/small tree of the desert southwest. Mesquite beans, durable enough for years of storage, became the livestock feed of choice when pastureland grasses failed due to drought or overgrazing. They were carried by early freighters, who fed the beans to their draft animals, especially in Mexico.
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