This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
There is a theory abroad, that in the light sandy soils of districts bordering the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, the pine and oak invariably succeed each other when either is removed by the agency of fire, or the woodman's destructive tool.
From some observations I have made through several of the Southern States, I believe this long-established theory to be but half correct. The reiteration of it by a gentleman whom I met on a train in West Central Georgia, induced me to look with especial care at the forests passed through after leaving him, and until the City of New Orleans was reached. Directly along the Gulf Coast the pine undoubtedly reigns supreme. Marshes and the borders of streams, of course, form an exception to this statement. In such localities, several species of oak and magnolia, the tulip, sweet-gum, and other trees are to be met with in abundance. Through the uplands, however, one may travel hundreds of miles and see the pine alone in every stage of its growth, from the little plant of six inches, up to the giant of 80 to 100 feet. These different ages and sizes of the tree are not always found in forests apart, but small and great are very frequently seen together, the new growth coming up amidst the remnants of the old.
If we, however, go from fifty to one hundred miles back from the coast, the state of matters will have materially changed, and there our long-used and oft-repeated theory will be found at home, and altogether correct. "Woods mainly of Spanish Oak, upland willow oak, and Black Jack, with here and there a pine left from the preceding forest, will be noticed in conspicuous alternation with other wooded tracts nearly or entirely covered with the long and short leaved pines.
The alternating theory, I fancy, has become established in the following way. People living in sections of the country where this view is a true statement of facts, might naturally enough suppose the rule would hold good elsewhere and everywhere. They would indeed be so possessed with this idea that they would not notice any deviation from it when such was casually presented to them. On the other hand, residents along the coast, where the pine forest is the invariable rule, not having any occasion to form a similar theory, would not possess one, and there would therefore be no conflict of thought with the adjoining section, and consequently no rectification of the theory's supposed universal application. A difference of soil is, I presume, the sole reason for the diversity of forest habit, as I have above stated.