In the News

Wednesday, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Houston Chapter of NPAT Texas Prairie Restoration: One Goal, Multiple Approaches. How past land use dictates restoration efforts. • Andy…

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Pedaling the Prairie - Chisholm Trail Park Wednesday, from 6 – 7pm Chisholm Trail Community Center, 4936 McPherson Blvd, Fort…

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Restoration Efforts at the Connemara Meadow Nature Preserve Presenter: Bob Mione of Connemara Conservancy Monday, from 6:30pm – 8pm

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Prairie Facts

South Texas Plains

The South Texas Plains, also known as the Rio Grande Plains or Tamaulipan Brushlands, consists of about 20,000,000 acres. Topography is level to rolling. Elevations range from 1,000 feet to about sea level. Soils of the South Texas Brush Country are clays and clay loams. Soil reactions vary from alkaline to slightly acid. The average annual rainfall of 16 to 35 inches, increasing from west to east. Average monthly rainfall is lowest in January and February, and highest during May or June. After a midsummer depression, another peak is reached in September. Summer temperatures are high, with extremely high evaporation rates in the Laredo area.

Thorny brush is the predominant vegetation type in the region, including mesquite, acacia, prickly pear, and mimosa, among others. Areas of shallow soils and rapid drainage generally support this plant life. A grassland or savanna type vegetation which also occurs was somewhat more extensive in the 19th century and earlier, but long continued grazing and other factors have altered the plant communities to such a degree that ranches of the region now face a severe brush problem.

According to Correll and Johnson, there are distinct differences in climax plant communities and successional patterns on the various range sites, with the characteristic grasses of the sandy loam soils being seacoast bluestem, species of Setaria, Paspalum, Chloris and Trichloris, silver bluestem and coast sandbur (Cenchrus incertus) and the dominants on the clay and clay loams are silver bluestem, Arizona cottontop (Trichachne californica), buffalo grass, curly mesquite (Hilaria Belangeri) and species of Setaria, Pappophorum and Bouteloua. He describes the low saline areas as characterized by gulf cordgrass ( Spartina spartinae ), seashore saltgrass and sacaton (Sporobolus Wrightii). whereas the grasses of the oak savannahs are mainly seacoast bluestem, Indian grass, switchgrass, crinkle-awn (Trachypogon secundus) and species of Paspalum. On the rolling open or brush-covered hills, the Malvaceae are also abundantly represented here as well as in the coastal area (Correll and Johnson).

The Brush Country has a greater diversity of animal life than any other in Texas. It is home for many near tropical species which abound in Mexico, many grassland species that range northward, and some desert species commonly found in the Trans Pecos.