Last days of winter?
The spring green out beckons

You can’t see it in this photo …

But the spring shift is underway in the swamp.

The swamp mosaic is mazelike, and sometimes parallel

How can I tell? Again, from this photo I can’t. But farther north in the center of at least one major strand was starting (emphasis on starting) to green out. Celestial spring doesn’t start until March 22nd, and by that time I can assure you that the cypress will be fully greened out. Coincidently, maximum green out always seems to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. I’m not saying the swamp is Irish, but it certainly has a lot of green in it. The thing about the green out is it doesn’t happen all in one day. It actually unfolds over a several week period, starting in mid February and running through mid March. Up north on the continent we associate the “spring green out” with warming temperatures and an abundance of rain. The paradox of the green out in Big Cypress National Preserve is that it occurs in the absence of water. The green out gives a lush appearance, but it is also the time of the year when surface water is most scarce (and getting scarcer until the May/June rains start back up) and the marl prairies are crunchy dry.

The green out is a result of increasing daylight hours. Temperatures might minimally factor in. As for the water, the cypress could care less, with one important caveat: The green out also ushers in plant transpiration and evapotranspiration. Starting in mid March (around St. Patrick’s Day) the water table starts to drop quicker as a result as a result of the active cypress tree roots.

Can you see the hints of green in the cypress?

The days of the slow-motion water table recession of winter are numbered.

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