Flowing Water Swamps

Floodplain swamps and associated riverine systems occur along streams that have eroded channels through the landscape. Strand swamps are generally situated in troughs in a flat limestone plain.

Strand swamps have sandy soils along their shallower fringes and increasingly deep peat soils towards their deeper central channels. The best developed forests are on deep peat that acts as a wick to draw moisture from groundwater up into the root zone during droughts.

Strand swamps have small young pond cypress trees towards their outer edges, grading into larger and older bald cypress towards the interior, giving a strand a distinctly rounded cross-sectional profile. (Because pond cypress Taxodium ascendens and bald cypress Taxodium distichum can be recognized as clearly different in these field situations, the two names are used here. Although some authorities persist in considering these different species, most ecologists now regard them as morphological variations reflective of different growing conditions.) In the central part of the strand, there may be open ponds or deeper sloughs dominated by pop ash (Fraxinus caroliniana) and pond apple (Annona glabra). Floodplain swamps have less distinctive gradation in tree sizes, but exhibit considerable variation in response to differences in substrate features.

Typical strand swamp vegetation includes cypress, red maple (Acer rubrum), cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), strangler fig (Ficus aurea), swamp bay (Persea palustris), sweetbay (Magnolia virginiana), royal palm (Roystonea regia), coastal plain willow (Salix caroliniana), wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera), myrsine (Rapanea punctata), buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), poison ivy (Toxicodendron usneoides), swamp lily (Crinum spp.), leather fern (Acrostichum spp.), and royal fern (Osmunda regalis). The canopy plants are mainly temperate, while the understory and epiphytic plants are generally tropical. The deeper sloughs are characterized by a subcanopy of pop ash and/or pond apple abundantly festooned with tropical epiphytes.

Taken from: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan. Atlanta, Georgia. Pp.3:457.

Listed Species Occurring in Flowing Water Swamp Habitat

  • Florida Panther
  • Bald Eagle
  • Wood Stork
  • Kirtland's Warbler
  • Eastern Indigo Snake