upon a time, not so long ago, there was almost no mesquite in the Panhandle
of Texas. When reading about the old-time cattle
drives from South Texas to Dodge City and other railroad delivery points, mesquite
was seldom mentioned. In fact most chuckwagons had coozy hides swung under the
wagon bed in which to toss sticks and cow chips for campfires. Another theory
suggests those same cattle coming from the south brought the mesquite to the area.
Mesquite bean history has many sidenotes. Apache Indians often fed their
horses mesquite beans as a feed supplement. Yet ranchers in heavy mesquite country
today often have to pen their horses away from the beans as some animals become
I once read about an ancient clay pot granary filled with mesquite
beans found in old Indian ruins. A few of the beans were planted and sprouted
immediately. Another mystery is why some beans dropped on the prairie sprout quickly
and others lay for months or years before sprouting? A clue to the answer came
when observers noticed beans eaten by animals like cattle, deer or coyotes, then
ejected, sprouted while beans dropped from trees did not sprout.
experimented with mature mesquite beans plucked from a tree. I planted some in
a cup of dirt, watered and placed the cup into the window sun. No sprouting occurred.
I then fried some in a skillet for a few minutes and placed others into the deep
freeze for a few days. When planted, each seed sprouted immediately.
centuries those who live in mesquite country have wondered why some years there
are large bean crops and other years, beans are sparse? The heat, weather and
amounts of rain received seemed to have no set pattern. An old timer may have
found the answer with a bit of common sense. To form a bean, there has to be a
bloom sometime early in the spring. If by chance there are severe storms, high
winds or a bit of hail while the blooms are forming, the numbers of surviving
blooms may be few thus producing less beans.
believe the only use for mesquite is that its roots often deter erosion. I once
dug a large mesquite bush out with my backhoe. When I flung it aside one root
was still in the ground. I kept pulling, and that root measured more than 18 feet
Others say the mesquite was put here by God and for a reason
— this long hot summer, and the theory of global warming may prove the theory
of that reason. Research at an agricultural experiment station shows the temperature
beneath a mesquite tree umbrella can drop from 3 to 10 degrees, depending on the
density of the shadow and speed of breeze. Watch the animals. In the heat of the
day almost all will be under the shade, especially the dark-colored animals.
has happened. It will continue. Some will fight it while others sit and complain.
I have proved I can control and live with it and even use its shade to my advantage.
© Delbert Trew
16, 2011 column
Trew is a freelance writer and retired rancher. He can be reached at 806-779-3164,
by mail at Box A, Alanreed, TX 79002, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For books see delberttrew.com. His column appears weekly.
Topics: Texas Historic Trees
Texas Ranching | Columns
| Texas Panhandle | Texas