This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
As the State of Texas is divided from north to south into three well defined zones - prairie, hill and mountains - so she is divided from east to west into three distinctly defined zones of vege-tion. The east is as much unlike the west as you may say Maine is to South Carolina, and no wonder, since there is a distance of about 800 miles from the eastern to the western line of the State.
Texas may be said to consist, first of the region of evergreen trees, stretching from the Red and the Sabine rivers to the Trinity and beyond, west of the region of oak and mesquite trees from the Trinity to the Medina, and lastly of the region of chaparrals from the Medina to the Rio Grande.
The most part of eastern Texas is covered with evergreen trees. The woods are so immense that you may travel in them for hundreds of miles and not find an open space. The more southerly you go the denser are the woods, and the more do they trend in a westerly direction. A narrow tongue of them goes even down as far as thirty miles below Austin, on the Colorado, and beyond that river. Here the town of Bastrop was founded, and for a while that little place supplied all the timber for the west of it until the woods gave out. In the north, the pine woods terminate already when they reach the Trinity river, and once across its wooded valley and before you is the open prairie, rolling in every direction for miles and miles, alternating with deciduous woods.
The pine, covering nearly the whole of the eastern section of the State, is Pinus taeda, and another kind, the name of which I do not know though it grows south-east between the Neches and the Sabine. The same pine is found in Louisiana between Niblett's Bluff on the Sabine, and St. Charles Lake on the Calcasien, forming splendid woods, trees often two hundred feet high. This pine is peculiar, growing straight up without a branch for say fifty feet, then sending in every direction strong but naked branches, which again send forth side shoots, and it is from the tip ends of these only that the heavy bundles of needles hang down perpen-dicularly. These needles are soft and pliant, and at least a foot and a half long. A young pine of this kind will shoot up eight to ten feet before branching. Throwing from its top a big bundle of needles all round it looks exactly like a young palm from a distance. The timber of these two pines is cut on innumerable sawmills. Some railroads have been built solely to carry the lumber to market.
Nor will it be so very long before the woods will be exhausted.
Whilst in the south-east of the State the pines are seldom interrupted by other woods, you meet in the north-east all at once with fine woods of oak and elm, mixed with other kinds such as ash, gum, etc.
Before proceeding, I would here point out a mistake very often met with, particularly in Europe, and spread over in text books, viz.: the assertion that the Texas flora consists partly of Mexican and partly of North American plants. Now whilst individuals of either are found largely in Texas, it still is a fact that the greater number of Texas plants are peculiar to that State, forming a group whose members are not found elsewhere in the world. The striking character of the Texas flora is variety of kinds, multiplicity and beauty of form and exuberance of growth. Texas has enriched already with many plants our civilized countries, for instance with Phlox Drummondii, which just now covers hill and prairie with blood-red, pink and white flowers; with Cercis reniformis, Ungnadia heterophylla, the red and yellow CEnotheras, Abutilon, As-clepias, Verbenas, Eupatorium. Gaillardia, Euphorbia bicolor, Ixia coelestina, the Yucca Palm and an infinite number of Cacti and Opuntiae.
Again there are found in Texas, plants which are also found in Mexico, in the' United States, in Europe, and even in Africa, and these plants were found before any people settled there. Of such are the Mexican Troximon, of Cape plants the Sisyrinchium Bermudianum, and Amaran-thus graecizans; of European ones Oxalis corniculata, Chenopodium hybridum and album .
As Mexico has been called the land of Cacti, Brazil that of Melastomaceae, the United States of Quercus and Caryas, so Texas may be called the land of Onagraceseae, as relatively speaking their representation is the strongest here. As native plants of Texas, amongst others may be named Hypericineae, Vacciniae, Lentibulariae, Primulaceae, Plantagineae, Orchidaceae, Opuntiae, Mammillariae, Echinocacti, Cerei, Echinocysti, Sophorae, Solani, Convolvulaceae, Phlox, Oeno-thereae, Salvias, Verbena?, Euphorbia Helianthia, Mimosas, etc. These plants are scattered over the whole State, some all over, east and west, on mountain and on prairie, others are restricted to particular sections. Of the latter are notably the trees, which give their character to the landscape.
Wherever deciduous woods appear amongst the pine rigions of the east, there they are generally of but one kind of tree. But in the wooded valleys the greatest variety prevails. There strikes us first the splendid Magnolia with its snow white flowers, as large as a plate, and its rich dark-green leaves. This Magnolia generally grows in clumps, intermingled with pines, in damp places, often forming woods by itself, and is found all over between the Neches and Buffalo Bayou, but only in the south-east section of the State. It disappears completely about a hundred miles from the coast. Another Magnolia, large smooth leaves and smaller pinkish flowers, grows in the valleys of the extreme east. There we also find the Catalpa and a tall dark Juniper.
Other trees of these valleys are Elms, Ulmus Americana and fulva, Platanus occidentalis Quercus cinerea and alba, Black Walnut, a Poplar, Populus angulata, and what the natives call "gumtree." Innumerable creepers and climbers, some with stems as thick as an arm, are to be mentioned, such as Clematis, Rhus toxicodendron, Cucusta systyla, which cover whole clumps of trees. Of grapes we see Vitis eordifolia, and also the blue Passion flower, Passitlora texensis.