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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 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 In heavily grazed pastures, the tall bunchgrass has been replaced by buffalograss,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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Stories and Recipes from The Piney Woods

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

Stories and

Recipes from

The Piney

Woods*

Most of this area of some 16 million acres, ranges from about 50 to 780 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. There are three native species of pine, the principal timber: longleaf, shortleaf, and loblolly. Hardwoods include 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 habitats. Primary forage plants, under proper grazing management, include species of bluestems, rossettegrass, panicums, paspaiums, blackseed needlegrass, Canada and Virginia wildryes, purpletop, broadleaf and spike woodoats, switchcane, lovegrasses, indiangrass, and numerous legume ­species.

Highly disturbed areas have understory and overstory of undesirable woody plants that suppress growth of pine and desirable grasses. . . .Grasslands have been invaded by threeawns, annual grasses, weeds, broomsedge bluestem, red lovegrass, and shrubby woody species.

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Stories and Recipes from the Trans-Pecos Mountains and Basins

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

Stories and

Recipes from the 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 drought-resistant vegetation without irrigation.

Grass is usually short and sparse.

The principal vegetation consists of lechuguilla, ocotillo, yucca, cenizo, prickly pear, and other arid land plants. In the more arid areas gyp and chino grama, and tobosagrass prevail. There is some mesquite. The vegetation includes creosote-tarbush, desert shrub, grama grassland, yucca and juniper savannahs, pine oak forest, and saline flats.

The mountains are 3,000 to 8,749 feet in elevation and support piñon pine, juniper, and some ponderosa pine and other forest vegetation on a few of the higher slopes. The grass on the higher mountain slopes includes many southwestern and Rocky Mountain

*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 South Texas Plains

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

Stories and

Recipes from the 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 and is 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, blackbrush, whitebrush, guajillo, huisache, cenizo, and others that often grow very densely.

The original vegetation was mainly perennial warm-season bunchgrasses in savannahs of post oak, live oak, and mesquite.

Other brush species form dense thickets on the ridges and along streams. Long-continued grazing has contributed to the dense cover of brush. Most of the desirable grasses have only 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, paspalum, windmillgrass, silver

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