This is our newest raised boardwalk. It goes through an area that’s both a semi-wet pine flatwood and a gum swamp. And what the heck is a gum swamp? It’s a “near-swamp,” wet enough to be dominated by a moisture-loving tree like the Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) but not so wet as to be full of cypress. You can tell the Black gum by their flared trunks, wrinkly grey bark and pointed leaves. There are also Sweet Gum trees here (Liquidambar styraciflua). These are the ones that drop their spiky, round seedpods all over the place in fall and winter. Both type of gum trees are among the first to loose their leaves when summer is over.
This section of the park has standing water after heavy rains and acts as a holding basin for drainage into Goldfish Bayou, the park’s tributary to Bayou Liberty. This flooding helps reduce the number of small plants completing for space on the forest floor and keeps the ground wet enough for gum trees.
The moisture here gives these woods a unique ecological character. Common species are club mosses (Lycopodiopsida), a kind of grass called Lady’s Hat Pin (Syngonanthus flavidulus)), Red Swamp Bay (Persea borbonia) and Mayhaw (Crataegus aestivales). Animals that like to live in these woods or pay an occasional visit include blue-tailed skink, armadillos, eastern grey squirrels, several snake species, deer and many kinds of birds.
Lady’s Hat Pin (Syngonanthus flavidulus)).