The ARM Trail and the Cypress Swamp

Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County

the cypress swamp
We head back toward the Visitor Center for our next stop, the Arthur R. Marshall Trail. There's a small parking lot on the north side of Lee Road just across the way from the Marsh Trail. We'll start there. We're in the designated "free speech zone," where if you want to protest something, this is the place to do it. Really. More importantly as we start walking the trail, we're alongside of the Cypress Swamp, getting an inside view. We took this photo in February, the time of year when the cypress trees drop their needles and reveal the swamp in a way we normally don't get to see. That green brew atop the water isn't algae; rather, its duckweed, a tiny flowering plant, believe it or not. A variety of ferns can be seen, including soft (Christella dentata) swamp and long strap ferns. The bark of the trees are "painted" with lichens, a Frankenstein creature made up by fungus and algae that combine to create something completely different. You can best see the lichens on the trees on the left and right foreground. It should be noted that lichens do no harm to their host plants, using them solely as a place to live; they are not parasites. Farther along, you'll see Spanish moss hanging drape-like on trees. Spanish moss is an air plant rather than a moss, a close relative of the pineapple, believe it or not. Spanish moss and other air plants get water and nutrients from the air. Be aware of your surroundings as you make your way — snakes and alligators can be present. If you come across one, leave it alone and it'll return the favor.

NEXT STOP: The ARM Trail — Hiking Ahead


Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.