Birthplace of the Suwannee

AN EXCERPT FROM SUWANNEE RIVER, STRANGE GREEN LAND BY CECILE HULSE MATSCHAT, 1938. ​“The birthplace of the Suwannee is in Georgia, deep in the somber heart of the Okefenokee Swamp. Grotesque, bottle-shaped cypress trees, sixty to ninety feet in height, with wide-spreading tops, reach upward from the wine-colored water and form a canopy so dense that onlyContinue reading “Birthplace of the Suwannee”

When the Okefenokee Swamp Burns

Hot summers… extended periods of drought… plenty of exposed organic peat material… and a random but well-placed lightning strike; all these ingredients cook up to make large fires. South Georgia, and especially the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, face this imminent threat every year. Often, hundreds upon hundreds of square miles burn for several days atContinue reading “When the Okefenokee Swamp Burns”

Weird Hobgoblin World

AN EXCERPT FROM SUWANNEE RIVER, STRANGE GREEN LAND BY CECILE HULSE MATSCHAT, 1938.  “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 blueContinue reading “Weird Hobgoblin World”

William Bartram’s Cypress

Excerpt from William Bartram’s Travels, published in 1791: “THE Cypress stands in the first order of North American trees. Its majestic stature is surprising, and on approaching them, we are struck with a kind of awe, at beholding the stateliness of the trunk, lifting its cumbrous top towards the skies, and casting a wide shade uponContinue reading “William Bartram’s Cypress”

Long Leaf Pine “Bottle Brush”

Before the industrialist loggers of the early 20th century arrived, the Longleaf Pine dominated the upland areas surrounding the Okefenokee Swamp. Because of its ability to survive wildfires in its fire resistant “grass stage”, the Longleaf is well suited to the fire prone South Georgia landscape. The thick, grassy clump of needles protects the budContinue reading “Long Leaf Pine “Bottle Brush””

Okefenokee Southern Blue Flag Iris

In the spring, there are splashes of purple and blue along the canoe trails of the Okefenokee Swamp.  I have primarily found this beautiful Iris along the Suwannee River Middle Fork (red trail) where the channel is still wide, but taller trees provide some shade. The leaves protrude from the water a few feet andContinue reading “Okefenokee Southern Blue Flag Iris”

Okefenokee Tiger Moth Caterpillar

The Okefenokee blackwater is decorated in the spring with the golden fingers and bright green plumes of the Golden Club plant (Orontium aquaticum). The waxy leaves are shed water droplets and always seem dry, hence the name “Neverwet.” ​ As I had my canoe anchored on a bed of bonnet lilies to photograph some GoldenContinue reading “Okefenokee Tiger Moth Caterpillar”

Okefenokee Gold Mine

The Okefenokee continues to make the news as conservationists sound the alarm against a proposal from Twin Pines Minerals to mine thousands of acres alongside the National Wildlife Refuge. This mining operation isn’t a modern day gold rush, but a search for titanium dioxide. Even so, there is Gold in the Okefenokee! A different sortContinue reading “Okefenokee Gold Mine”

Okefenokee Gator Taters

The waters of the Okefenokee Swamp, particularly the more open lakes, are often covered in bright green lily pads. The large white blooms of the American White Water Lily, Nymphaea odorata, might be the more recognizable of the species, but on my springtime trips, the Yellow Bonnet Lily, or Spatterdock, is more prevalent. ​ The YellowContinue reading “Okefenokee Gator Taters”

The Long Moss

An excerpt from William Bartram’s Travels, Part II, Chapter III: “The long moss, so called, is a singular and surprising vegetable production: it grows from the limbs and twigs of all trees in these southern regions, from N. lat. 35 down as far as 28, and I believe every where within the tropics. Wherever it fixes itself,Continue reading “The Long Moss”