AskDefine | Define screwbean

Dictionary Definition

screwbean n : shrub or small tree of southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico having spirally twisted pods [syn: screw bean, tornillo, screwbean mesquite, Prosopis pubescens]

Extensive Definition

Prosopis pubescens (Screwbean Mesquite), is a small tree or shrub found in the southwestern United States (Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California, southern Nevada and Utah) and Mexico. It has light brown bark, usually short, straight spines (1-3 cm), twice-compound leaves, and numerous, small, yellowish flowers appearing in elongate spikes. It is found along streams and valleys in deserts particularly in damp or saline soil, and grows to about 7 meters (20 ft). The tree is also called "Tornillo" or simply "Screwbean". The name arises because the tightly twisted legumes very much resemble a turned screw. This morphology may have been an evolutionary defense against seed predators such as bruchid beetles (bean weevils).
Inflorescence of Prosopis pubescens



Like those of other mesquites, screwbean has nutritious pods that can be eaten. Mesquite meal is a traditional Native American food. Used as a staple food for centuries by desert dwellers, this high protein meal contains good quantities of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc, and is rich in the amino acid lysine as well. Mesquite is high in fiber, moderate in sugar, and eight percent protein. It has a sweet, rich, molasses-like flavor with a hint of caramel which blends well into smoothies or other drinks, especially those made with cacao and maca.
Approximate Nutritional Value of Mesquite Pod Meal Amt/100g Protein 16 g Fat 3.4 g Calories 380 Fiber 36 g
Minerals: Barium 3.7 mg Boron 3.2 mg Calcium 520 mg Chromium 0.12 mg Cobalt 0.03 mg Copper 0.8 mg Iron 18 mg Magnesium 140 mg Manganese 2.3 mg Molybdenum 0.05 mg Phosphorus 215 mg Potassium 1712 mg Sodium 12 mg Sulfur 222 mg Zinc 3.0 mg


  • National Audubon Society, Field Guide to Trees, Western Region, North America, 1980, pg. 501.
screwbean in Spanish: Prosopis pubescens
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