This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012 at 9:45 am and is filed under Wetlands. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
The county of Palm Beach does a great job of preserving natural areas. Most of them are open to the public, however this one isn’t, unless you get permission from the county and have one of their guides with you. I was fortunate, I tagged along with Steve Bass and Kitty Philips and their Florida Master Naturalist Program class.
Cypress Pond Natural Area is located smack dab in the middle of a residential area, just north of Okeechobee Boulevard. This 1,737 acres is a remnant of the pine Flatwoods-wet prairie mosaic that formerly bordered the Loxahatchee Slough. What is amazing about this site is that you can see how just a few inches of elevation in southern Florida can change the plant life. We sloshed through the grasses in ankle deep water. For the unsuspecting, they found the waist deep depression. Sometimes it’s best to have a walking stick to probe the area in front.
The land rose in elevation of about a foot. Just enough for the pine and coco-plum trees to get a foothold and keep their feet dry.
This area is a little harder to hike through. Lots of vines set up trip wires across the ground and the foliage is dense. Cabbage palms also like this drier area and as you pass one, their teeth-like fronds love to cut across your thighs giving bloody souvenirs of the hike.
In some places between the shallow water and the ridge, there are areas of soft sand and muck. Here the wild flowers grow. Red, yellow, and blue blooms can be found this strip of shoe sucking area. Make sure your laces are tight. The flowers are sometimes solitary and in other places stretch for several yards giving splashes of color to the brown and green grasses.
As expected, several varieties of bromeliads can be found. I looked for orchids, but found none. Most likely they are deeper into the wetland.
The hike was informative and once you get away from the noise of the traffic the cypress pond comes alive with sounds. A red shouldered hawk glided above us, warning us away. Tree frogs with their descriptive sounds, (steel balls clacking, a wet comb being thumbed, baying like sheep) and a splash of the water from time to time. What a great way to spend the afternoon.
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