Garden In The Glades
Debra and Dave Vanderlaan
Photograph - Photography
A small grove of cypres knees is shown here in the glades of the Grassy Waters Preserve in the western wetlands of West Palm Beach, Florida. Note the large snail shell, the main food of the elusive and rare Snail Kite bird.
Tree islands are small forests of trees and shrubs that have adapted to a wet environment. They provide an important home to the many mammals that live in the Everglades and are a site for wading and migratory bird rookeries. Tree islands generally are named after the trees that dominate them, with the most common the bay, willow and cypress.
Cypress is probably the most recognized tree in the Everglades, and includes the dwarf and bald species. Cypresses require water to develop, and then can live on either dry land or in water as mature trees. They have unusual root systems producing "knees" that grow out of the earth which scientists think are used for breathing. Cypress trees shed their leaves in the fall - somewhat unusual in a subtropical environment. Another interesting tree found in the islands is the pond apple, which produces large, bitter, yellow-green fruit. Pond apples are a food source for some animals.
Trees also exist in the Everglades in hammocks, which are localized, mature hardwood forests. Unlike the tree islands that are dominated by wetland species, hammocks can have trees that traditionally live in drier conditions such as oak and pine. Royal palm, cabbage palm, live oak, gumbo limbo and West Indian mahogany are some trees that live in these tropical hardwood hammocks.
November 24th, 2012
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