The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900 Page: 58
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Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
ing been coequal in all parts where the cactus grew and the In-
dians fired the country. But however that may be, it seems to me
more probable that whatever effect fires might have in changing
the character of the vegetation had been already long accomplished
when de Vaca passed through Texas, as the Indian practice of
firing the country for game must have been an exceedingly ancient
Thirdly, the coming of civilized man must have introduced some
changes in the animal and vegetable forms in Texas. This would
be more largely due to the introduction of the domestic animals,
and the dissemination of foreign forms of vegetable life. In this
connection I may here properly notice the increase in the growth
of the mesquite tree. De Vaca speaks of this tree only in East
Texas, and not far from the sea coast, yet it is now found probably
from coast to coast. I have seen it make a very perceptible advance
in the country west of the Pecos during the past fifteen years.
Twenty years ago cattle in large numbers were first brought to
this country and turned loose upon the range. Since then the
mesquite has encroached on plains once destitute of it, and the
result is commonly and reasonably attributed to the distribution of
the seeds by cattle and horses, which are very partial to the mes-
But I am unable to see any effect of this kind, and most cer-
tainly none of this degree, upon the cactus. Practically it is only
a few years since civilized man made his entrance into Texas, and
there are living here now men whose memory goes back to a time
when the cactus could have been very little influenced in its habitat
by the coming of the civilized race. It is one of the most persist-
ent, conservative, and hidebound of our native growths, giving way
only with the greatest reluctance and holding grimly to its time-
honored territory. The pifion tree, which will be brought into
consideration later, has been up to the last thirty years out of
direct contact with civilization, at least as far as it is known to
exist in this State. Consequently it can not have been affected by
I have taken up these matters for discussion in order to show
that it is not unreasonable to assume the situation and distribution
of plants in this State to be very much the same now as in de Vaca's
day, at least so far as the cactus and the pifion are concerned.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900, periodical, 1900; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101015/m1/66/: accessed June 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.