Cypress swamps are the most common freshwater swamps in the state. They take the form of ponds or strands. Ponds have cypress trees growing in or around a depression. Viewed from a distance many ponds have a dome like appearance with the tallest trees near the center. Strands form in areas where the depression is longer than it is wide. Typically, the strand is long and narrow looking like a tree filled river and having the tallest trees in the deepest part of the depression.
Cypress swamps exist where water levels fluctuate. Since the seeds are incapable of germinating where there is standing water, these wetlands are usually not wet all year. You can easily tell which parts of a cypress swamp are the wettest by noting the height of the trees. The tallest ones grow where there is the longest period of standing water. In a pond, the wettest area is usually the center and in a strand the center usually has the longest period of standing water.
A variety of plants grow in association with cypress swamps. Cabbage palm, red maple, pond apple, sweet bay, black gum, and swamp laurel oak trees grow as part of the under- and overstory of these swamps. Shrubs such as cocoplum, dahoon holly, gallberry, fetterbush, wax myrtle, myrsine, wild coffee, and a variety of ground and epiphytic ferns comprise the understory.
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