Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Travel (Hiatus)

Animation of wind gusts near Amarillo, TX.
I have been doing plenty of work-related travel these past few weeks. Sometimes I'm successful at finding time for a post, but as last week demonstrated, not always. This week does not look better. Fortunately, next week I think I'll finally be able to continue again. I have two post I've been planning to do for a while on some awesome Texas lizards. So please bear with me and check back next week. If you are on Google+, I am still decently active on there for non-blog posts and commenting. For now, enjoy a picture of some gusty winds last week in the Texas Panhandle.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Honey Mesquite

Honey Mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa
Honey mesquite is a small, thorned tree of up to 9.1 m (30 ft) in height native to the southwestern states down into Mexico. Within Texas it is one of the most widely distributed trees, tolerant of heat and shade when established and able to grow in sandy and clay soils. It is also very effective at surviving fires with new growth from either buds within the crown or else from underground buds on the nitrogen-fixing roots if damage is severe. Honey mesquite blooms fragrant white or yellow flowers from February through September which become long bean pods as early as late summer.

Honey mesquite in the scrublands of South Texas.
While mesquite is not a favorite of ranchers due to the livestock harming thorns and difficulty of removal, they have played a vital role as a source of food for many native tribes. The large yields of bean pods in late summer, even in drought prone regions, were dependable, and mesquite often grows in groves with an average lifespan of less than 100 years, but with records of up to 172 to 217 years old. The green pods can be boiled to create a syrup or, green or ripe, the pods can be consumed straight, although the fibrous pulp is discarded. More often, the ripe pods are ground into a meal or flour with a flavor comparable to caramel. In addition to food, the juices from the leaves were used as an antacid and to treat irritation, and the wood was used by the Navajo to construct bows. While not as highly regarded now, with exception for use of the wood for cooking, honey mesquite does offer food for wildlife in the form of nectar and bean pods as well as shade where there otherwise would be none.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Another Hiatus

South Texas Scrubland
Until I figure out a more normal schedule, please bear with me and these post-less days! There will likely be a post on Thursday as it's mainly Tuesdays that end up as long days.