Frequently Asked Questions

Refuge from the Air Multimedia Landing Page

Over the years, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions at the Refuge.  Maybe you, too, have some of the same questions.

Where are the airboat rides?
We do not have airboat rides on the Refuge. Loxahatchee Everglades Tours is the airboat concession south of the refuge off Loxahatchee Road (SR 827). They can be reached at (561) 482-6107 or (800) 683-5873.

What is the fruit on the tree on the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk that looks like an apple? Is it edible?
The tree is called a Pond Apple Tree. The fruit is called the pond apple. Old-timers used to call it alligator pear. The fruit is edible, but quite cottony and not very tasty. However, it is especially attractive to wildlife.

What is the red stuff on the cypress trees?
The ‘red stuff’ on the bark of the trees is called lichen. This is a primitive plant that is a symbiotic relationship between an alga and a fungus. This particular lichen is called Baton Rouge, which means “red stick” in French.

What are the knobby protrusions sticking up out of the water?

These knobs are called cypress knees. They are an extension of the root systems of the cypress trees. Their function is still being debated. Some say a cypress knee helps support the tree, which has a shallow root system. It is certainly true that the knees help to stabilize the tree during storms. A second theory is they provide a gaseous exchange for the roots, which are covered with water. The third theory, the most recent, is that the tree stores starch in the knees to help maintain the tree during times of stress.

Where are the alligators?
Alligators are most likely found along the marsh trail in open waters. You may also see them around the ponds in back of the visitor center or in the canal by the boat ramps.

Are alligators dangerous? What do they eat? When do they eat?
Alligators can be dangerous, but they are usually not. If a gator has been fed by humans or if there is a nest nearby, they may be more aggressive. Learn more about alligators here

Why are the trees in the swamp dead?

The trees in the swamp are bald/pond cypress and are deciduous, meaning that they lose their leaves in the winter. 

What are the blooms on the trees?
The “blooms” are the bracts of bromeliad plants. The bloom itself is small and insignificant. These plants are epiphytic, not parasitic. You may call them air plants, bromeliads, or epiphytes. They take nothing from the tree except support. The leaves of the cardinal air plant form a basin that collects water as well as decayed plant and animal matter which are absorbed as nutrients by the leaf surfaces.

What are those small black and yellow “bugs” coming up out of the ground in such big numbers?
These “bugs” are the immature stage of the lubber grasshopper. The grasshoppers themselves become quite large and very orange, yellow with some black. When they are small, they eat a great deal of green plant material. But, watch out when they are fully grown as they are poisonous to wildlife, hence their bright colors.

Are there snakes in the swamp?

Yes, many kinds. You have to have a keen eye to spot them. In the spring, you are more likely to see one swimming or sunning on a plant. Occasionally, they will be on the walk, but that is rare. If one is on the walk and does not move when it hears you, return to the visitor center and we will go out with a snake stick and gently move it off the boardwalk. This rarely happens! It is usually the children that find the snakes – adults walk right by.

What is the gauge at the end of the boardwalk for?
The gauge located at the side of the boardwalk closest to the restrooms is used by biologists to measure the height in feet above sea level. After reading the gauge, biologists will then use a formula to figure out the levels.

What does the word Loxahatchee mean?
It’s a Seminole Indian word meaning River of Turtles or Turtle River.

When are you open?
Refuge hours are 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The visitor center is open from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, seven days a week. The Visitor Center is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Do you lead tours/programs here?
Look at the calendar of events on the website. The calendar is published at the beginning of each month. We have a number of different programs and walks that are led by volunteer naturalists and staff. We also have occasional speakers who present information on local wildlife and conservation issues. Other event can occur such as Everglades Day or Kids Fishing Day.

Are there other local preserves, nature centers, or natural areas?
We have an abundance of flyers from other nature centers and facilities similar to ours. If visitors are interested, tell them about your favorite spot besides Loxahatchee NWR.

What do I do when I find an injured animal or if there is a nuisance animal in my yard?
You will need to call a wildlife rehabilitation center, there are several in Palm Beach County.

Is there a website for the Refuge?
Yes! You are on it! You can find out information on refuge wildlifeupcoming events, how to volunteer, management priorities, educational materials, kids’ activities, and lots of other interesting information.