higher and dryer land huisache and catsclaw are associated with it. The mesquite trees are only about 10 feet tall, and average less than 2 inches in diameter. Along the streams it is crowded out by elm, ash, hickory, and live oak. Only about 9000 acres, located in San Patricio, Uvalde, and Live Oak counties, are commercially valuable for logging. The logs average only 3 feet straight length and 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
Throughout the central denuded region from Hardeman and Wilbarger counties on the Red River to Valverde County on the Rio Grande mesquite is generally distributed, but throughout its northern range the trees become more dwarfed and the stands more scattering. Short, crooked trunks with long, irregularly curved branches produce scraggly trees, suggestive of long-neglected orchards. The trees have a large taproot which extends to a great depth, and it is not uncommon to find the larger part of the tree under rather than above the ground.
The rapid spread of mesquite is largely due to the abundance of seed, and to its wide dissemination by live stock, but its distribution is determined chiefly by the character of the soil. It can not compete with the native trees, and is forced to occupy low or level areas where the soil is fine and compact. It does not occur on very moist soils along the streams because it is crowded out by the native hardwood trees. It occupies the level areas with fine silty soils, which are less porous, known as “mesquite flats.” Large areas of the mesquite prairies have been reclaimed for agricultural purposes, hut fortunately the greater part of the land is planted with cotton, which is as valuable as mesquite as a source of honey. In parts of the Trans-Pecos region mesquite is one of the surplus honey plants, although the main dependence of the beekeeper is irrigated alfalfa.
The leaves are bipinnate, composed of two branches or pinnae, each of which bears from 6 to 25 pairs of narrow leaflets. At the point of union of the two branches of the leaf there is a gland. The small fragrant flowers are in yellowish cylindric spikes, 3 to 5 inches long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 10 stamens. The fruit is a round pod, 6 to 8 inches in length, which is greedily eaten by cattle. Even human beings find that these beans have a good flavor, and children particularly relish them each season as they ripen. They vary considerably in taste, however, some being so bitter that they can not be eaten, while others are very sweet and agreeable in flavor. Their chief value is as food for cattle.
Mesquite has usually two separate and distinct blooming periods during the year, although in some seasons there is no interval. The first comes during April, and the second during the last of June or in July. These periods are sometimes a week or more earlier or later, according to the season, the occurrence of cold weather, and the rainfall of the preceding fall and winter. If rain has been abundant during the winter, no matter how dry the following spring, there will be a profusion of bloom and a heavy flow of nectar. The long tap root penetrates the soil to a great depth and is thus able to obtain water, which is beyond the reach of many other shrubs and trees. (Fig. 81.)
According to H. B. Parks mesquite may bloom at any time from late spring to early autumn. The number of bloomings is governed by the number of rainfalls, and may be as many as five or six. One inch and over of rain will cause a new blooming, but a very small rainfall, as one-eighth of an inch, will cause the bloom to fall. There is an interval of about five weeks between the falling of the rain and the opening of the induced bloom. A rainy December and January and a dry March and April are favorable to a honey flow in the spring, while a wet spring and a dry June and July favor a summer honey flow.
From 25 to 100 pounds of honey per colony are stored from the bloom, according to the locality and weather conditions. The honey is light amber in color and of good quality. It is considered a better table honey than any other of the Texas honeys, since one does not tire of it as quickly as in the case of a honey with a more pronounced flavor. The honey, although ranked very high in Texas, would in the North probably be classed with the amber honeys. Nectar secretion is more reliable on light sandy soils than on heavy land.
In New Mexico, in the valley of the Rio Grande River, beekeepers formerly depended on mesquite and other desert plants, but now pay attention only to al-