Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 69
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Vegetation of the Gulf Marshes consists primarily of
sedges, bullrush, flat-sedges, beakrush and other rushes,
smooth cordgrass, marshhay cordgrass, marsh millet and
maidencane. The marshes are grazed best during win-
3. Post Oak Savannah. This secondary forest region,
also called the Post Oak Belt, covers some 7 million
acres. It is immediately west of the primary forest re-
gion, with less annual rainfall and a little higher eleva-
tion. Principal trees are post oak, blackjack oak and elm.
Along streams are growths of pecans, walnuts and other
kinds of water-demanding trees. The southwestern ex-
tension of this belt is often poorly defined, with large
areas of prairie.
The upland soils are sandy and sandy loam, while the
bottomlands are sandy loams and clays.
The original vegetation consisted mainly of little
bluestem, big bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, pur-
pletop, silver bluestem, Texas wintergrass, spike wood-
oats, longleaf woodoats, post oak and blackjack oak. The
area is still largely native or improved grasslands, with
small farms located throughout. Intensive grazing has
caused much of this area to degenerate to dense stands
of a woody understory of yaupon, greenbriar and oak
brush. Mesquite has become a serious problem. Good
forage plants have been replaced by such inferior plants
as splitbeard bluestem, red lovegrass, broomsedge
bluestem, broomweed, bullnettle and western ragweed.
4. Blackland Prairies. This area of about 12 million
acres, while called a "prairie," has much timber along
the streams, including a variety of oaks, pecan, elm,
horse-apple (bois d'arc) and mesquite. In its native state
it was largely a grassy plain - the first native grassland
in the westward extension of the Southern Forest Re-
Most of this fertile area has been cultivated, and only
small acreages of meadowland remain in original vege-
tation. In heavily grazed pastures, the tall bunchgrass
has been replaced by buffalograss, Texas grama and
other less productive grasses. Mesquite, lotebush and
other woody plants have invaded the grasslands.
The original grass vegetation includes big and little
bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, sideoats grama, hairy
grama, tall dropseed, Texas wintergrass and buffalograss.
Nongrass vegetation is largely legumes and composites.
5. Cross Timbers and Prairies. Approximately 15 mil-
lion acres of alternating woodlands, often called theWest
Cross Timbers, and prairies constitute this region. Sharp
changes in the vegetational cover are associated with
different soils and topography, but the grass composi-
tion is rather uniform.
The prairie-type grasses are big bluestem, little blues-
tem, indiangrass, switchgrass, Canada wildrye, sideoats
grama, hairy grama, tall grama, tall dropseed, Texas win-
tergrass, blue grama and buffalograss.
On the Cross Timbers soils, the grasses are composed
of big bluestem, little bluestem, hooded windmill-grass,
sand lovegrass, indiangrass, switchgrass and many spe-
cies of legumes. The woody vegetation includes shinnery,
blackjack, post and live oaks.
The entire area has been invaded heavily by woody
brush plants of oaks, mesquite, juniper and other unpala-
table plants that furnish little forage for livestock.
6. South Texas Plains. South of San Antonio, between
the coast and the Rio Grande, are some 21 million acres
of subtropical dryland vegetation, consisting of small
trees, shrubs, cactus, weeds and grasses. The area is
noteworthy for extensive brushlands, known as the brush
country, or the Spanish equivalents of chaparral or
monte. Principal plants are mesquite, small live oak,
post oak, prickly pear (Opuntia) cactus, catclaw, black-
brush, whitebrush, guajillo, huisache, cenizo and others
which often grow very densely. The original vegetation
was mainly perennial warm-season bunchgrasses in post
oak, live oak and mesquite savannahs. Other brush spe-
cies form dense thickets on the ridges and along
streams. Long-continued grazing caused the region to
be densely covered with a mixture of brush. Most of the
desirable grasses have persisted under the protection of
brush and cacti.
There are distinct differences in the original plant
communities on various soils. Dominant grasses on the
sandy loam soils are seacoast bluestem, bristlegrass, pas-
palum, windmillgrass, chloris, silver bluestem, big sand-
bur and tanglehead. Dominant grasses on the clay and
clay loams are silver bluestem, Arizona cottontop, buffalo-
grass, common curlymesquite, bristlegrass, pappusgrass,
gramas, plains lovegrass, Texas cupgrass, vine-mesquite,
other panicums and Texas wintergrass. low saline areas
are characterized by gulf cordgrass, seashore saltgrass,
alkali sacaton and switchgrass. In the post oak and live
oak savannahs, the grasses are mainly seacoast
bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, crinkleawn, paspa-
lums and panicums. Today much of the area has been re-
seeded to buffelgras.
7. Edwards Plateau. These 25 million acres are rolling
to mountainous, with woodlands in the seastern part and
grassy prairies in the west. There is a good deal of bru-
shy growth in the central and eastern parts. The combi-
nation of grasses, weeds and small trees is ideal for
cattle, sheep, goats, deer and wild turkey.
This limestone-based area is characterized by the
large number of springfed, perennially flowing streams
which originate in its interior and flow across the Bal-
cones Escarpment, which bounds it on the south and east.
The soils are shallow, ranging from sands to clays and
are calcareous in reaction. This area is predominantly
rangeland, with cultivation confined to the deeper soils.
In the east central portion is the well-marked Central
Basin centering in Mason, Llano and Burnet counties,
with a mixture of granitic and sandy soils. The western
portion of the area comprises the semi-arid Stockton
Noteworthy is the growth of cypress along the peren-
nially flowing streams. Separated by many miles from
cypress growth of the moist Southern Forest Belt, they
constitute one of Texas' several "islands" of vegetation.
These trees grow to stately proportions and, in the past,
have been commercialized.
The principal grasses of the clay soils are cane blues-
tem, silver bluestem, little bluestem, sideoats grama,
hairy grama, indiangrass, common curlymesquite, buffa-
lograss, fall witchgrass, plains lovegrass, wildryes and
The rocky areas support tall or mid-grasses with an
overstory of live oak, shinnery oak, cedar and mesquite.
The heavy clay soils have a mixture of tobosagrass, buf-
falograss, sideoats grama and mesquite.
Throughout the Edwards Plateau, live oak, shinnery
oak, mesquite and cedar dominate the woody vegetation.
Woody plants have invaded to the degree that they
should be controlled before range forage plants can re-
8. Rolling Plains. This is a region of approximately 24
million acres of alternating woodlands and prairies. The
area is half mesquite woodland and half prairie. Mes-
quite trees have steadily invaded and increased in the
grasslands for many years, despite constant control
Soils range from coarse sands along outwash terraces
adjacent to streams to tight or compact clays on redbed
clays and shales. Rough broken lands on steep slopes are
found in the western portion. About two-thirds of the
area is rangeland. But cultivation is important in certain
The original vegetation includes big, little, sand and
silver bluestems, Texas wintergrass, indiangrass, switch-
grass, sideoats and blue gramas, wildryes, tobosagrass
and buffalograss on the clay soils.
The sandy soils support tall bunchgrasses, mainly sand
bluestem. Sand shinnery oak, sand sagebrush and mes-
quite are the dominant woody plants.
Continued heavy grazing causes increase in woody
plants, low-value grasses such as red grama, red love-
grass, tumblegrass, gummy lovegrass, Texas grama, sand
dropseed and sand bur; and western ragweed, croton and
many other weeds. Yucca is a problem plant on certain
9. High Plains. The High Plains, some 19 million tree-
less acres, are an extension of the Great Plains to the
north. The level nature and porous soils prevent drain-
age over wide areas. The relatively light rainfall flows
into the numerous shallow "playa" lakes or sinks into
the ground to feed the great underground aquifer that is
the source of water for the countless wells that irrigate
the surface of the plains: A large part of this area is un-
der irrigated farming, but native grassland remains in
about one-half of the High Plains.
Blue grama and buffalograss comprise the principal
vegetation on the clay and clay loam "hardland" soils.
Important grasses on the sandy loam "sandy land" soils
are little bluestem, western wheatgrass, indiangrass,
switchgrass and sand reedgrass. Sand shinnery oak, sand
sagebrush, mesquite and yucca are conspicuous invading
10. Trans-Pecos, Mountains and Basins. With as little
as eight inches of annual rainfall, long hot summers and
usually cloudless skies to encourage evaporation, this 18-
million-acre area produces only drouth-resistant vege-
tation without irrigation. Grass is usually short
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/73/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.