When one says, “swamp”, one of the first images related to the flora and vegetation of the habitat is, of course, the towering Cypress trees and flowing curtains of Spanish Moss. On my forth trip to the majestic Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, I spent some time to learn the other floral inhabitants of this beautiful ecosystem.
Second to the Cypress trees, the next most common image of swamp vegetation is that of the “lily pad”. Like shiny green dinner plates floating upon black water, the white Fragrant Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata abounds in the Okefenokee. These verdant saucers are garnished with large, white, sweet-scented flowers.
Not only is the White Water Lily a picturesque part of the swamp, but it is an important part of the ecosystem. Wildlife such as Deer, beaver, and muskrat will eat the leaves and rhizomes; while the seeds are consumed by various waterfowl. The underwater parts of the plant also provide food and habitat for invertebrates, which are also sustenance for reptiles, amphibians and avian life.
See more Okefenokee journals at www.williamwisephoto.com.
iNaturalist Observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/35934505