The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966 Page: 41
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The Mesquite Tree
The subject of employing Indians, in collecting this gum, was
seriously entertained by gentlemen on the frontier when we left,
and no doubt the experiment will be made with every probability
of success, as the immense quantity of mesquite trees ... cannot
fail to afford an inexhaustible supply. ...
The Report of the Commissioner of Agriculture for 1872 states
that mesquite gum was used in Texas "For medicinal and tech-
nical uses, especially in the preparation of mucilage, gum-drops,
jujube-paste, etc." About 2,ooo pounds were gathered in Bexar
County in 1871. In the 189o's, the gum was shipped East to con-
fectioners who used it in making gum drops; collectors of the
gum received as much as twenty-five cents per pound from
The United States Dispensatory ... states that 24,000 pounds
of the gum were gathered in 1872. It is possible that this yield
could materially be increased by wounding the bark early in sum-
mer when the gum is formed. In Mexico it is highly prized for
medicinal qualities, the pharmacies being required by law in some
states to keep it in stock.'o
A "Biological Survey of Texas" in 190o5 called the gum a "much
neglected product" and predicted it needed "only introduction
to a market to become of commercial use."" Since the United
States imports several million pounds of various gums annually
(for use in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, confections, tex-
tiles, and other products), an effective utilization of mesquite
gum is still considered worthy of study.
The expansion of the cattle business in recent times, however,
has overshadowed the speculations on the usefulness of any prod-
uct of the mesquite. At present, this tree is hardly mentioned as be-
ing useful; "noxious," "malignant," and "merciless" describe its
downfall. And the downfall had its origin in the passing of the
free range, the buffalo, and the Indian.
To pioneers the virgin rangelands of the Southwest were inex-
haustible. There grass as high as a cow's back dominated wide
prairies, a ranch empire provided by nature for herds of buffalo,
10Robert H. Forbes, "The Mesquite Tree: Its Products and Uses," Bulletin No. 13
(Tucson, 1895), 18.
"North American Fauna, No. 25 (Washington, 1905), 33.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 69, July 1965 - April, 1966, periodical, 1966; Austin, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117144/m1/59/: accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.