Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Remember the alamo

with 3 comments

“Remember the Alamo!” was the battle cry in 1836 of Texans who wanted to free themselves from Mexican rule. The motto referred to the then-recent massacre by Santa Ana’s Mexican army of the defenders of the Alamo, a former mission in San Antonio inside of which a band of rebellious Texans had taken refuge. So what’s with the lower-case alamo in the title of today’s post? Spanish-speaking settlers had given the mission the name they did because of the cottonwood trees that grew there, alamo being the Spanish name for that type of tree. Botanists, whether they speak Spanish or English, know it as Populus deltoides. The first word identifies the tree as a kind of poplar, and the second refers to its leaves, which are roughly triangular in shape.

After Austin’s Mueller Airport was taken out of service in 1999, most of the pavement from the runways was removed and regular mowing of the property ceased. The result was that all sorts of native plants began springing up again, including quite a few cottonwood trees. On September 30th I wandered through a northern section of the old airport that has not yet been redeveloped, and there I found this cottonwood tree. It is probably just a few years old, given the rapid rate at which this species grows.

For more information about cottonwood trees, including a clickable map showing the many places they grow, you can visit the USDA website.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 6, 2011 at 5:31 AM

3 Responses

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  1. I hope you don’t mind me sharing, but your entry today reminded me of a hilarious, though slightly rude, coyote story that the Native Americans tell of how the Poplar tree got such big surface roots. Do you know it? 😉
    ~ Lynda

    The story can be found here on page 4 of this children’s newsletter. It is an old Assiniboin Story (Great Plains Tribe) Interestingly, there was a variation I found telling why the poplars branches stood straight up too.

    Click to access 2010feb.pdf


    October 6, 2011 at 7:07 AM

    • It’s new to me, but I’m always happy to branch out and make cultural connections. Thanks.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 6, 2011 at 7:49 AM

  2. […] post featured a young cottonwood tree that had sprung up on the not-yet-redeveloped section of Austin’s old Mueller Airport. With […]

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