Post Oak, Quercus stellata
The Cross Timbers ecosystem in Irving was an area of great significance to the Comanche in the mid-eighteen hundreds. This particular area featured scenic views of Red Oaks, Post Oaks, prairie grass, wildflowers, acorns the women ground into a paste for food, native medicinal plants the healers used to make medicines, as well as a “paint rock” quarry. Stone tools and other artifacts used by American Indians have been found in and around the Irving escarpment ridge area.
The land also provided the Comanche and other tribes who frequented the Cross Timbers with a clear view of Bird’s Fort Trail from the escarpment ridge. From this natural high point, they could watch for activity or movement on the trail below and observe smoke signals from nearby areas. The severely bent Post Oak (Quercus stellata) with a bow in the trunk and several outward growing limbs, as well as four limbs growing upright stood on the ridge.
The tree pointed to the nearby “paint rock” quarry, which was a significant find for the Comanche. They painted their bodies, horses, and hides with the pigments extracted from the paint rock quarry. The paint rock pigments were also used to create rock art.
When the Comanche Nation Tribal Elder Council visited the tree they gathered pieces of the paint rock for their future use and to follow in the footsteps of their previous generations. The Elder Council recognized the Irving Escarpment Ridge tree as a marker tree bent to reveal the paint rock quarry’s location. It was also recognized as having a direct relationship with Bird’s Fort Trail.
Unfortunately, the tree was lost due to extreme heat and drought in 2011 and though it was a very unfortunate loss, it allowed further investigation into its past history. Since the tree had a hollow trunk for much of its life, a large number of animal bones were found inside the trunk.