From 1845 to 1847, German naturalist Dr. Ferdinand Roemer traveled across Texas observing, collecting, and detailing discoveries in a journal published in 1849, after his return to Germany. The expansive title — Texas ~ with Particular Reference to German Immigration and the Flora, Fauna, Land, and Inhabitants — is justified, as Roemer was a curious, keen-eyed, and accurate observer.
After arriving in Galveston via steamship from New Orleans and traveling up Buffalo Bayou to Houston, Roemer departed for New Braunfels. Along the way, he stopped in Gonzales and Seguin, and spent time at the historic El Capote Ranch. Eventually, he explored the area around New Braunfels in the company of Ferdinand Lindheimer, another German who already had acquired some fame as a botanist; in time, Lindheimer would become known as the Father of Texas Botany.
During their time together, Roemer and Lindheimer followed the course of the Guadalupe River for several miles below New Braunfels. Roemer’s description of the mesquite trees he encountered during that trip came to mind when I discovered a lovely stand of mesquite in ranch country south of Devine on May 9:
A natural prairie or meadow one-fourth mile wide extends between [the Guadalupe] and a gently rising chain of hills, on which mesquite trees (Pleopyrena glandulosa Engelmann) were scattered. These mesquite trees, which spread also over a great portion of northern Mexico, give to the prairie of Western Texas much of its peculiar character…
The trunk is gnarled and now and then bent, thus making it unfit for lumber. They seldom obtain a thickness of over one to one and one-half feet in Texas, nor a height of more than twenty to thirty feet…
The foliage resembles the so-called acacia, inasmuch as it is plumeous. The individual leaves, however, are much narrower and the whole foliage is more graceful and transparent.
To find shade under a mesquite tree is like dipping water with a sieve.