Swamp botany

The swamp is full of plants, some widespread, others rare, and still others that aren’t supposed to be there. And here’s the thing about the plants: They are always listening to the water. It tells them where to grow and thrive (or wither and die). Cypress domes | Strands and sloughsSwamp mosaic?Flood and fire | Marl Prairies | UplandsBotany | Alligators and more | Life cycle of a pond apple | mangroves

wet season

Mystery: Summer wet season’s botanical clue?
Hint: Think country mouse, city mouse

The start of fall is easy to see in the swamp: Look no farther than the needles of the cypress trees turning brown then falling off. But does the swamp have a similar botanical clue that signals the start of the summer wet season?

a. Pond apples start to ripen and fall

b. Gumbo Limbo’s bark peals

c. Royal Poinciana’s bright orange flowers

d. Sawgrass blooms begin to appear

e. Brazilian Pepper berries turn red

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Click “Read More” to find the answer: “Nearly 97% of the world’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable.” Overheard

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quality of water

Vegetation plume
Fueled by poor water quality

The Everglades are oligotrophic.

The canal below provides a direct connect between agriculturally enriched waters to the heart of the Everglades.

Bad water quality in, looking Northwest

The result is a dense and growing thicket of willow and cattails in the middle of what should be pristine Ridge and Slough.

The solution?

Nutrient plume out, looking Southeast

Filling in the canal and cleaning up the water seems like a good start.

It’s part of a plan gaining multi-stakeholder support.

Cool shade (of the fire tree)
How Poinciana tees portend major precipitation

Needle-shedding cypress trees …

Signal the start the winter dry season. But does the start of the summer wet season have a similar botanical clue?

A row of Royal Poinciana
trees in May

Answer, yes:

The Royal Poinciana tree unleashes a fiery display of flowers each year about mid May.

Streets literally light up in their presence.

But it’s a strange red luminescence in that it does not bring warmth, rather shade … a very deep and luxurious shade. All thanks to its copious canopy of outstretching branches and fern-like leaves.

Summer rains are a welcome reprieve

June rains reliably drop the flame-like flowers to the ground.

You’d almost expect them to sizzle (given their color).

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