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In Texas, there is lot of grassland and many cotton fields, which need a great deal of water. However, I have not seen any forests or areas with many trees.

Why are there no forests or heavily-treed areas in Texas?

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    $\begingroup$ Texas A&M disagrees. Even western Texas has some trees. The cotton farms are probably all in the east, and might be heavily irrigated, not familiar with taxes cotton farms, but I know Missouri cotton farms are in the southeast corner and get a lot of water. $\endgroup$ – user137 Apr 12 '15 at 17:21
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    $\begingroup$ I've edited the question and nominated it for re-opening. I think it's clear what the OP is asking, even if the premise is faulty. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Apr 15 '15 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ Because the settlers cut down a lot of the trees in order to make cotton fields? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 10 '15 at 17:57
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A quick google image search reveals that, indeed, Texas has quite lush forests. Remember that the state is extremely large (as compared to the Northeastern states, for example), and encompasses a huge variety of terrain, climates, rainfall amounts, etc. While the stereotypical view of Texas is rugged, dusty terrain:

Rugged Texas! From: http://texasmountaintrail.blogspot.com/2013/12/big-bend-landscape.html

The eastern part of the state borders Louisiana, and is definitely not dusty and dry:

Northeast Texas From: https://www.flickr.com/photos/horwath/2488138213/

Rainfall varies across the state from east to west:

Texas rainfall 1961-1990 From: http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/namerica/usstates/weathermaps/txprecip.htm


There are many different reasons why trees are not very likely to grow in certain regions, and these may vary from place to place. There may not be enough precipitation to support trees that are not adapted to a drier environment, while some species of grass could survive just fine. Temperature changes could be too severe between summer and winter (grasses just go dormant or die during harsh winters, and regrow in the spring). Fire is a big issue, as well - prairies often burn, and while grasses can regrow quite quickly, a tree that doesn't mature for 20 years may not make it between fires. Grasslands also have very deep, tightly-intertwined root networks, with some reaching 15 feet (~5m) or more below the surface:

prairie root network (Click image for higher-resolution PDF)
From: http://www.conservationresearchinstitute.org/educational-offerings.html

Tree species that survive the other challenges may not be able to penetrate deeply enough to adequately take root, sustain itself, and not fall over. Also, speaking of which, grasslands tend to be susceptible to tornadoes as well, and while grasses just bend before the wind, trees get uprooted or break. So, while any one or two of these issues may be overcome by a particular tree species, when added together it translates into a very inhospitable environment for trees.

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    $\begingroup$ how to explain places with lots of grass but barely with trees in Texas? $\endgroup$ – questionhang Apr 14 '15 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @questionhang there are plenty of places like that across middle America, and around the world. Here, we call it "prairie," in Europe and Asia it's called "steppe," and in southern South America (especially Argentina) they call it "pampas." There is sufficient rain for grasses, and trees can survive if planted and maintained, but they generally do not prefer to grow there. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Apr 14 '15 at 1:20
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    $\begingroup$ @That is what I ask. Why do not they like to be there? Precipitation is still not enough? $\endgroup$ – questionhang Apr 14 '15 at 20:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Matt Thank you. You wrote a lot. But you missed my main point. There are lots of drought-enduring trees like en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_euphratica. Why is there only grass? In western Texas, you can see only grassland sometimes. Water is not a problem for many trees if large-area grassland exists. $\endgroup$ – questionhang Apr 15 '15 at 6:42
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    $\begingroup$ One more factor that needs to be considered in the reasons why some areas were grassland/prairie before European settlement is grazing. There were herds of millions of buffalo (estimates range around 50 million) migrating around the plains, in addition to other grazers. Trees would generally be eaten before they had a chance to grow. Grasses and other prairie plants could have their tops eaten, yet sprout again from the roots, much as a lawn does after mowing. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 10 '15 at 18:08
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Born and raised in Texas here. I think people have a hard time comprehending the size of Texas. It has every climate (except extreme cold) and terrain. The coast is tropical and humid. The west is hot and dry desert. The central part is lush hills. The east side is forest, thick forest (see piney woods and Big Thicket)

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Texas has lots of trees with many varieties of native and non-native trees. Texas is almost 1000 miles across, understanding it's massive size give reason to it's various types of flora.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-post/how-big-is-texas-compared-to-other-land-masses/

Due to elevation, temperature and the growing medium trees will grow at differing rates. Someone previously mentioned animals will eat plants so it's a balancing act in nature. I've watched squirrels propagate the seeds to have rabbit and deer eat them. In a drought most food is is up for consumption by the wildlife. Certain trees like the Dessert Willow will grow in some of the dry arid areas of Texas where you won't normally see trees.

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CHLI2

Back to the question; trees can be planted and may even flourish if maintained and given the opportunity to grow. The problem is it requires investment and most people want to see a monetary return in their life time. Mankind has a hard time looking beyond 10 years and trees able to survive in a desert climate can easily take 50 years to get 3-5 feet in height.

I've noticed in the 50 years I've been alive, trees have always added to the value of land in one form or another, so keep planting!

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Each part of the Earth is divided into temperate zones depending on their latitude. Texas happens to be considered a Temperate Grassland. Temperate Grasslands are usually dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Because of where Texas is located on the Earth it has high summer temperatures which encourages fires. These fires help exclude woody vegetation such as trees and usually limits trees and shrubs to margins of streams and rivers. These grassland vegetation vary from about 5 cm in dry, short grass prairies to over 200 cm in the wetter, tall grass prairies. Of course there are still going to be trees in Texas but there will not be forests like along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. Those are considered to be in a different temperate zone called Temperate Forest. These areas usually have more rain and temperatures are not as extreme as Texas.

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    $\begingroup$ Your answer is too general. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Populus_euphratica is not able to survive if we plant them with large tracts of land in western Texas? $\endgroup$ – questionhang Apr 18 '15 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ @questionhang: Why would we want to introduce an alien species that has no obvious ornamental or food value? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 10 '15 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ @ My question is whether we should introduce them or not, but why are there no these kind of trees in Western Texas or even Africa. They can survive easily. $\endgroup$ – questionhang Jun 11 '15 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ @questionhang: See the above answers, and also my comment re grazing. Also, if you look at prairie regions generally, you find that people do plant drought-resistant trees as shelter belts around houses &c. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 11 '15 at 18:32
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf then why are not drought-resistant trees popular in Western Texas or even Africa? People have to plant them! $\endgroup$ – questionhang Jun 12 '15 at 1:12
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Looking at the great colored map above : Most of the area east of "green " is pine forest with some oak savanna and coastal marsh. Guessing , that area is bigger than any state east of the Mississippi. There are interesting timber museums in towns like Nochadoches and Lumberton. I live in an east TX area that was clearcut before the 30's ; today it is mostly 100 ft ,4 ft diameter loblolly pines ( which keep me from sleeping during a wind storm.) . Much of this land is national forest because taxes were not paid during the depression because the land was worth little after the timber was gone.

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