Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
I call this image of the base of a fallen cypress tree "Cypress Knees Akilter". This photo was taken from a kayak in the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge.
This slow-growing tree can be found throughout most of Florida in lakes, swamps, floodplains and along streams. The range extends north to New York and west into Texas, mostly in the coastal plain, and up the Mississippi River drainage into southern Illinois.
The trunk of bald cypress is spreading at the base with a deep tap root and spreading roots that send up knees extending out of the soil and water. The purpose of these knees is not entirely clear, but they are believed to help both with support and gas exchange.
The vast cypress forests of the southeast United States have mostly been timbered, leaving few old-growth trees. The Suncoast chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society has produced a brochure called Why kill a tree to grow a flower? (pdf file) explaining the detriments of using cypress mulch and listing some alternatives that are available.
There are more photographs of bald cypress trees on the Lake Disston page and the Dwarf Cypress page.