Carolina Environmental Diversity Explorations
Wetlands of the coastal plains · By Dirk Frankenberg
Cypress-gum swamp community
When we talk about cypress-gum swamps, we talk mostly about the two dominant trees because often they make up almost all of the plants that live in the community. Most commonly the understory and herb layers of this community are poorly developed because of the difficult living conditions found on flooded forest floors. In places where flooding is less frequent and deep, you will find red maples, Carolina ash, and other species of gums scattered beneath the canopy trees. This arrangement is typical of southern bottomland hardwood communities. Figure 12 shows such a community landward of a swamp forest found along the White Oak River. If you look closely in the lower foreground you can see reflections from standing water. This photograph was taken in the fall when bottomland forests are usually dry, but this year was an exception as the floods of Hurricane Floyd took place only six weeks earlier. The remnants remain as puddles on these poorly draining soils.