Today, Folklore Twitter is celebrating #SwampSunday, so I thought I’d slip this stately scientific illustration into my queue. This is what’s going on underneath that dark, tannin-dyed water where the cottonmouths slither and the gars float silently, waiting for prey.
It’s from a USDA bulletin called The Southern Cypress I found in the Biodiversity Heritage Library. I’m pretty sure this was from before these trees – the straight-backed giants of the Southern swamps – were considered endangered, back when their wood was prized for termite-resistant construction (and railroad ties that resisted decay) and there was still more swampland than real estate in the Everglades… and around the Okefenokee… and in the Great Dismal.
No one’s exactly sure why these trees grow knees – those upward-projecting sections off their roots – the way they do. It’s just one more mystery in the swamp water.