Weird Hobgoblin World


Cypress tree knees covered in green moss in a dark swamp. Taxodium distichum and T. ascendens have knees from the roots for stability in wetland habitats. Photographed on the Middle Fork Suwannee River (red canoe trail) in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USA. October 23, 2020. ©

“In the weird, hobgoblin world of the bays there is perpetual twilight. Even at midday, with a brilliant sun overhead, only an occasional ray pierces the thick green roof of the jungle, spotting the brown water with flecks of gold and lightening the blue of the iris that blooms in the marginal shallows. The bottle-shaped trunks of these cypresses, often twelve feet in diameter at the base and a scant two feet in diameter above the swelling, where they begin to tower symmetrically toward the sky, gleam in tints of olive, silver, violet, and odd greens and blues. Their dark roots protrude above the surface of the water, either arched like bows or in groups of knees. Seeing this malformed forest in the strange green light, one might expect it to be the home of gnomes, with beards and humps.”

​Cecile Matschat’s work published in 1938 by the Literary Guild of America is full of colorful stories of the Swampers that lived in the Okefenokee, exciting folklore encounters with bear, boar and cannibal alligators, as well as scientific descriptions of the flora and fauna of the great swamp. It a worthwhile purchase if you come across a used copy of this collectible out-of-print treasure of Okefenokee literature.

  • Matschat, Cecile Hulse, and Key Alexander. Suwannee River: Strange Green LandThe Literary Guild of America, Inc., 1938.

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