Only four of his men, including Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, succeeded after eight years' of Indian captivity and of long and weary wanderings, in finding their way to Spanish settlements in Mexico.
Among other forest trees of economic importance are the silk-cotton tree (Bombax ceiba), the Palo de vaca, or cow-tree (Brosimum galactodendron), whose sap resembles milk and is used for that purpose, the Inga saman, the Hevea guayanensis, celebrated in the production of rubber, and the Altalea speciosa, distinguished for the length of its leaves.
Meanwhile Vaca de Castro had been sent out as governor of Peru by Charles V., and on hearing of the murder of Pizarro he assumed the government of the country.
The earliest explorations were made by the Spaniards, Cabeza de Vaca, 1528-36, and Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, 1540-42, but the first colony was that planted on Matagorda Bay in 1685 by the French under the Sieur de la Salle.
The island of Santa Catharina was originally settled by the Spanish; Cabeza de Vaca landed here in 1542 and marched hence across country to Asuncion, Paraguay.
De Vaca into Mexico after eight years of wandering across the continent and related to his countrymen the stories he had heard of wonderful cities of stone in the north.
Preceded by Estevanico, the negro companion of Cabeza de Vaca in his wanderings and the "Black Mexican" of Zuni traditions, Fray Marcos left Culiacan in March 1539, crossed south-eastern Arizona, penetrated to Zuni or the "Seven Cities of Cibola," and in September returned to Culiacan.
Excited by the reports of Alvaro Nunez (Cabeza de Vaca) and others as to the wealth of Florida (a term then commonly used in a much wider extension than subsequently), he sold great part of his property, gathered a force of 620 foot and 123 horse, armed four ships, and obtained from Charles V.
Arizona history begins with the arrival in Sonora in 1536 of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who, although he had not entered Arizona or New Mexico, had heard of them, and by his stories incited the Spaniards to explore the unknown north in hope of wealth.