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Stories and Recipes from the High Plains

Frances B. Vick (Editor) University of North Texas Press PDF

Stories and

Recipes from the High

Plains*

The High Plains, some 19 million treeless acres, are an extension of the Great Plains to the north. Its level nature and porous soils prevent drainage 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 under irrigated farming, but native grassland remains in about onehalf of the High Plains.

Blue grama and buffalograss comprise the principal vegetation on the clay loam “hardland” soils. Important grasses on the sandy loam “sandy land” soils are little bluestem, western wheatgrass, indiangrass, switchgrass, and sand reedygrass. Sand shinnery oak, sand sagebrush, mesquite, and yucca are conspicuous invading brushy plants.

*Stephan L. Hatch, Texas Almanac, 2014–2015, Elizabeth Cruce Alvarez, editor (Austin: Texas State Historical Association), 117. Used with permission of Texas State Historical Association.

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Stories and Recipes from the Cross Timbers and Prairies

Frances B. Vick (Editor) University of North Texas Press PDF

Stories and

Recipes from the Cross

Timbers and

Prairies*

Approximately 15 million acres of alternating woodlands and prairies, often called the Western Cross Timbers, constitute this region.

Sharp changes in the vegetational cover are associated with different soils and topography, but the grass composition is rather uniform.

The prairie grasses are big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, Canada wildrye, sideoats grama, hairy grama, tall grama, tall dropseed, Texas wintergrass, blue grama, and buffalograss.

On Cross Timbers soils, the vegetation is composed of big bluestem, little bluestem, hooded windmillgrass, sand lovegrass, indiangrass, switchgrass, and many species 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 unpalatable plants that furnish little forage for livestock.

*Stephan L. Hatch, Texas Almanac, 2014–2015, Elizabeth Cruce Alvarez, editor (Austin: Texas State Historical Association), 115. Used with permission of Texas State Historical Association.

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Stories and Recipes from the Post Oak Savannah

Frances B. Vick (Editor) University of North Texas Press PDF

Stories and

Recipes from the Post Oak

Savannah*

The secondary forest area, also called the Post Oak Belt, covers some 7 million acres. It is immediately west of the primary forest region, with less annual rainfall and a little higher elevation. Principal trees are post oak, blackjack oak, and elm. Pecans, walnuts, and other kinds of water-demanding trees grow along streams. The southwestern extension 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, purpletop, silver bluestem,

Texas wintergrass, woodoats, narrowleaf, post oak, and blackjack oak. The area is still largely native or improved grasslands, with small farms located throughout. Intensive grazing has contributed to dense stands of a woody understory of yaupon, greenbriar, and oak brush.

*Stephan L. Hatch, Texas Almanac, 2014–2015, Elizabeth Cruce Alvarez, editor (Austin: Texas State Historical Association), 115. Used with permission of Texas State Historical Association.

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Stories and Recipes from the Gulf Prairies and Marshes

Frances B. Vick (Editor) University of North Texas Press PDF

Stories and

Recipes from the 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 western part. Many of these 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, and the area is well suited for cattle.

Principal grasses of the Gulf Prairies are tall bunch grasses, including big bluestem, little bluestem, seacoast bluestem, indiangrass, eastern gamagrass, Texas wintergrass, switchgrass, and gulf cordgrass. Saltgrass occurs on moist saline sites.

Heavy grazing has changed the native vegetation in many cases so the predominant grasses are the less desirable broomsedge bluestem, smutgrass, threeawns, tumblegrass, and many other inferior grasses. Other plants that have invaded the productive grasslands include oak underbrush, Macartney rose, huisache, mesquite, prickly pear, ragweed, bitter sneezeweed, broomweed, and others.

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Stories and Recipes from the Blackland Prairies

Frances B. Vick (Editor) University of North Texas Press PDF

Stories and

Recipes from the 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, 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 region.

Most of this fertile area has been cultivated, and only small acreages of grassland remain in original vegetation. 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. Non-grass vegetation is largely legumes and composites.

*Stephan L. Hatch, Texas Almanac, 2014–2015, Elizabeth Cruce Alvarez, editor (Austin: Texas State Historical Association), 115. Used with permission of Texas State Historical Association.

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