David L. White dlwhite at
Tue Apr 10 03:12:10 UTC 2001

> Pecans are characteristic of certain watercourses in Texas.

        This is getting rather off topic, but what the hell, until the
moderator calls a halt ...
        The proper term has now occurred to me:  pecans (in Central Texas
anyway) are mostly flood-plain trees.  But I was just out in the wilds west
of San Antonio Saturday, keeping my eyes open, and I was rarely out of sight
of an isolated pecan or two.  They were quite easy to spot as they are just
now leafing out, being among the last to do so.  They were not in flood
plains.  They were in the open areas between the hills, probably because the
shade has the effect of lessening de facto aridity.  Be that as it may, they
were probably encountered in the flood plains of the Nueces by Spanish
explorers, or settlers.

>>   On the other hand, I recall that most of what grows
>> along the waterways I am thinking of (which cannot really be called
>> rivers) is cypresses.

> I think this may be a relatively recent change, due to overgrazing by
> cattle.

        Maybe, but I doubt it.  Some of those cypresses, out in what was
Indian country till after the Civil War, are so large that they must be
several hundred years old, unless cypresses are very fast growing.  They are
as large as oaks I have seen that are known to be about 500 years old.
Roughly, it takes two people to reach around them.

> According to my "Trees of North America" pecans are native from about the
> Mississippi westward into eastern Texas.  They exist only as cultivated
> trees east of the Mississippi.

        I have seen plenty of beech groves in eastern Texas (indeed I have
been in places where beeches were the only living things in sight), but no
pecan groves.  I would imagine that pecans are somewhat marginal there.  In
fact, I do not recall that I have ever seen one there.  Not that I doubt the
distributions maps:  what occurs in central Texas and regions east of Texas
would almost have to occur in eastern Texas.  But I think one could go a
long time without running into one there.
        It has been suggested that their range has spread due to planting by
the Amerindians.  Some of the flood-plain pecan forests or groves now in
existence may in part be descended from ancient orchards.  Eventual spread
up the waterways into new territories would be expected.

Dr. David L. White

More information about the Indo-european mailing list