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Crosstimbers Connection Connecting People with Nature in North Texas


In north Texas, from around the cities of Bowie and Breckenridge in the west to Greenville and Corsicana in the east, there is a region of oak woodlands and prairies. Areas with sandy soils are dominated by woodlands with post oak and other trees, and these are the “cross timbers.” In places, the oaks may grow in thick groves or belts, and other areas involve open savannah or grassland scattered among the woodlands. These woodlands run from southeastern Kansas down through north central Texas, as can be seen in the map of the ancient cross timbers available at the University of Arkansas Tree Ring Laboratory. Areas with relatively thin, black soils over white limestone originally supported prairie. In particular, toward the east is a region called the “blackland prairie” that historically supported little bluestem as well as big bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, side-oats grama, and other grasses. Today, this tallgrass prairie has nearly all been lost to development and agriculture, with only a few remnants preserved (see the TPWD video https://youtu.be/lBl-FruPos0).

Representative trees and other plants:

In the cross timbers, the dominant trees are post oak and blackjack oak. There may also be thickets of sumac, possumhaw, and other understory plants. Greenbriar and Virginia creeper often grow within the cross timbers forest, along with poison ivy. In more open areas, prickly pear cactus and yucca are often seen.

Prairie grasses include little bluestem, big bluestem, Indiangrass, switchgrass, and side-oats grama. Other plants occurring on the prairie include broomweed, horsemint, thistle, Indian paintbrush, winecup, and many other wildflowers.

Many rivers and streams cut through this area, and bottomland forests include trees such as cottonwood, pecan, bur oak, ash, and elm.

Places to visit: (more information to be added soon)

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

Tandy Hills Natural Area

Southwest Nature Preserve

LBJ National Grasslands

Lake Mineral Wells State Park

Cedar Hill State Park

Parkhill Prairie

Clymer Meadow Preserve


Map showing where the cross timbers historically occurred (courtesyof the Tree Ring Laboratory, University of Arkansas, http://cavern.uark.edu/misc/xtimber/

A post oak leaf

Little bluestem