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.
The valleys of the rivers of the middle zone are characteristically different from each other, as far as their vegetation goes. Hence an old inhabitant of the State of Texas can very often tell from the vegetation along a creek to which system of rivers that creek belongs.
Of all the Texas rivers, the shores of the Brazos are most densely wooded, there being a breadth of about thirty miles of almost impenetrable woods on either side. The tallest and most striking trees in these woods are: Sycamore, Platanus occidentalis, Cottonwood, Popu-lus angulata, two kinds of Walnut, Juglans and Carya aquatica, several Oaks, - O. rubra, cinerea, coccinea, virens, - Elms and Hackber-ries. Amongst the elms we find the prickly one. Its trunk and branches bear thorns three to six inches long, attached horizontally, very sharp, very smooth, and very tough. Most of the trees are covered with Tillandsia usneoides, with gigantic grape vines, Vitus labrusca, and with Trumpet flowers, Bignonia radicans.
The underbush is mostly an evergreen small tree, about twelve feet high, related to the almonds, whose leaves taste very much like almonds. It goes often by the name of wild peach. Its fruit has two kernels, similar to coffee berries, in a hard shell. This tree grows so thickly that the seedlings of the giants of the forest, are smothered by them and with difficulty get along. Under it the ground is so thickly covered with blackberries and several other low growing shrubs, that hardly a blade of grass can come up.
As a contrast of the Brazos, the shores of the Colorado, at times of the year a mighty river, are poorly wooded, and for miles show nothing but sand banks. Wherever the Colorado forces its way through mountains, there cedar trees line its shores, and where it crosses a small valley, there its shores are fringed with elms. Again a desert of white sand are its shores near the city of Austin, whilst about a hundred miles below Austin there appear along its course the pines of the pineries of the eastern section of the State. Finally the oaks come along as far as the river enters the prairie. From that line down, the Colorado carries its waters to the Gulf along treeless shores. Now let us look at the imposing and totally different flora along the Guadeloupe River.
Its chief ornament is the beautiful Cypress, Taxodium distichum, eighty, to one hundred and fifty feet feet high, and five to ten feet in diameter, a tree which likes to stand near the water, and to send its roots into it. The Cypress trees often stand so close as apparently to form a solid mass of trunks, and the tops to form a solid roof across the river. It is found also on all the tributaries of the Guadeloupe : the San Marcos, the Comal, the Cibolo, the San Antonio and the Medina. The valleys of these rivers are generally narrow; the largest of them is that of the San Marcos, which towards the east, has a width of about fifteen miles. Here we find also elms, live oaks, cedars, and Pecan-nut trees, the latter, Carya olivreformis, is nowhere in the State found but on the river system of the Guadeloupe. A tall and stately tree with dense top, fond of rich soil.
The underbrush of the Guadeloupe woods is likewise peculiar to this river, and consists of a great diversity of fruit and other trees. The most numerous are the wild plum trees, Prunus Americana, and Prunus Texana, the black Mulberry tree, Morus nigra, a linden tree of low growth and large leaves, an elm, Ulmus fulva, Cercis reniformis, which is found both as tree and shrub, and the splendid Sophora affinis with its large blue blossoms.