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Corkscrew Swamp, Florida

Landmark Cypress #2 - "Muir."

Landmark Cypress #2 "Muir"

Photo by Harold Wood, January 20, 2018

Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Florida, acquired in 1954, is host to the earth's largest remaining forest of old-growth bald cypress trees (Taxodium districhum). Bald cypress are the longest lived trees east of the Mississippi and the largest trees east of the Rockies. According to Jason Lauritsen, Sanctuary Director, "Having endured more than five centuries of hurricanes, the Corkscrew bald cypress are rich with character bearing battle scars and hollows from limbs broken long ago by high winds. Anchored to one another in a mat of soft peat over five feet deep, these cypress bend and give in high winds, but they rarely topple over."

In 2012, Corkscrew Swamp introduced its "Landmark Trees Project" that identifies unique bald cypress trees within the ancient swamp forest where the oldest residents are more than 500 years old. The Landmark Cypress trees are a collection of old-growth trees within the forest, which the Audubon Society identified for their interesting physical characteristics, history, location, and the resident plant and wildlife. The purpose of the project was to commemorate the rescue of earth's largest remaining forest of old- growth bald cypress trees from logging. The project resulted in the naming of twelve old-growth cypress trees. Over the course of several months beginning in 2012, a different tree was inducted into the "Landmark Trees Project." The trees now serve as a living museum along the boardwalk for visitors to enjoy. Two of the landmark trees - the DaVinci Tree and the Guy Bradley Tree - were lost in Hurricane Irma in 2017. Many of the trees are named for national or local naturalists, but also for Native American heritage.

Landmark Cypress #1 was named "Sentry" It serves as a transition between the younger trees and the old-growth trees, as if to guard the entry to the ancient forest. The sign for that tree explains the common characteristics of old-growth forests, ranging from Corkscrew Swamp to Muir Woods.

Landmark Cypress #2, shown here, was named "Muir," after the naturalist John Muir. Also seen in this photograph is a swamp lily (Crinum americanum), which bloom year round in moist areas of the press forest.

Text on sign reads:

John Muir is called the father of America's national parks. He founded the Sierra Club, and was a proponent for protecting natural places for their innate value, and not just for the exclusive is by human beings.

He devoted most of his life to the preservation of western forests, stimulating activism among artists, scientist, writers, and leaders from throughout the world. In 1903, he petitioned Congress to protect the Yosemite Valley as a national park, and soon thereafter President Theodore Roosevelt camped with Muir for three days. In 1906, Roosevelt signed the bill creating Yosemite and Mariposa Grove national parks.

The Muir tree is an old bald cypress measuring 15 feet around. Its ponderous branches host a variety of plants including thick mats of resurrection ferns and scattered epiphytes. An equally massive network of roots sprawls out from the base, hidden from view but for the numerous knees that protrude from the peat. The purpose of knees is a mystery. They might stabilize the giant trees, or providing oxygen exchange for their under water systems.

Quote from John Muir at bottom left of sign:

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul.

The bronze plaque reads:

John Paul Howard
Creator - Landmark Trees Project
Founder - Cypress Council
Muir - Landmark Cypress
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary


See also John Muir's chapters in his book A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf :

Return to:

John Muir in Florida
Places Important to John Muir

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