Cypress and Mixed Swamp Forests

Habitat - Cypress Promo

Freshwater wetland forests (swamps) are the dominant vegetation type on the refuge.  These communities include mixed swamp forests, cypress domes and strands, shrub thickets such as willow heads, pop ash sloughs or pond apple sloughs, and dwarf or scrub cypress.  A total of 188 species of plants are reported for these areas (Long, 1974).  The overstory of the mixed swamp forest is generally composed of bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), red maple (Acer rubrum), pop ash (Fraxinus caroliniana), dahoon holly (Ilex cassine), myrsine (Myrsine guianensis), willow (Salix caroliniana), and swamp bay (Persea palustris) (Alexander and Crook, 1973). Prior to logging of the cypress in the 1940's and 50's throughout the current boundaries of the refuge, it was the major overstory species.  Other trees were considered subcanopy species.  The understory of these swamps include a variety of ferns, aquatic plants, saplings of the overstory species and grasses (Duever et al, 1986).  The Fakahatchee Strand, which originates on the Panther Refuge, is a unique habitat type supporting a profuse population of rare plant species, including the largest concentration and greatest diversity of native orchids in North America.