Texas Almanac, 1994-1995 Page: 94
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94 Texas Almanac 1994-1995
(Editor's note: This article was updated for this edition
of he Texas Almanac by Stephan L. Hatch, Curator,
S.M. Tracy Herbarium and Professor, Dept. of Range-
land Ecology and Management, Texas A&M Univer-
Difference in amount and frequency of rainfall, in soils
and in frost-free days gives Texas a great variety of vege-
tation. From the forests of East Texas to the deserts of
West Texas, from the grassy plains of North Texas to the
semi-arid brushlands of South Texas, plant species change
The following discussion of Texas' 10 vegetational
areas (see map) and rangeland resources was prepared
for the Texas Almanac by authorities at Texas A&M Univer-
Sideoata grama, which occurs on more different soils
in Texas than any other native grass, was officially desig-
nated as the state grass of Texas by the Texas Legisla-
ture in 1971.
The 10 principal plant life areas of Texas, starting in
the east, are:
1. Piney Woods. Most of this area of some 16 million
acres ranges from about 50 to 700 feet above sea level
and receives 40 to 56 inches of rain yearly. Many rivers,
creeks and bayous drain the region. Nearly all of Texas'
commercial timber comes from this area. Pine is the princi-
pal timber. There are three native species - the longleaf,
shortleaf and loblolly pine. An introduced species, the
slash pine, also is widely grown. Hardwoods include a
variety of oaks, elm, hickory, magnolia, sweet and black
gum, tupelo and others.
The area is interspersed with native and improved
grasslands. Cattle are the primary grazing animals. Deer
and quail are abundant in properly managed localities. Pri-
mary forage plants, under proper grazing management,
include species of the bluestems, rossettegrass, pani-
cums, paspalums, blackseed needlegrass, Canada
and Virginia wildryes, purpletop, broadleaf and spike
woodoats, switchcane, lovegrasses, Indiangrass and
Highly disturbed areas have understory and overstory
of undesirable woody plants that suppress growth of pine
and desirable grasses. The primary forage grasses have
been reduced and the grasslands invaded by threeawns,
annual grasses, weeds, broomsedge bluestem, red
lovegrass and shrubby woody species.
2. Gulf Prairies and Marshes. The Gulf Prairies and
Marshes cover approximately 10 million acres. There are
two subunits: (a) The marsh and salt grasses immediately
at tidewater, and (b) a little farther inland, a strip of
bluestems and tall grasses, with some gramas in the west-
em part. These grasses, except salt and marsh grasses,
make excellent grazing. Oaks, elm and other hardwoods
grow to some extent, especially along streams, and the
area has some post oak and brushy extensions along its
borders. Much of the Gulf Prairies is fertile farmland. The
area is well suited for cattle.
Principal grasses of the Gulf Prairies are tall
bunchgrasses, including big bluestem, little bluestem,
seacoast bluestem, indiangrass, eastern gamagrass,
Texas wintergrass, switchgrass and gulf cordgrass.
Seashore saltgrass occurs on moist sahline sites. Heavy
grazing has changed the range vegetation in many cases
so that the predominant grasses are the less desirable
broomsedge bluestem, smutgrass, threeawns, tum-
blegrass and many other inferior grasses. The other
plants that have invaded the productive grasslands include
oak underbrush, Macartney rose, hulseche, mesquite,
prickly pear, ragweed, bitter sneezeweed, broomweed
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1994-1995, book, 1993; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth162513/m1/94/: accessed January 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.