Swamps of the southern United States are populated with cypress trees sporting “knees”, lumps of wood growing from the trees’ roots and protruding above the water. Those cypress knees are favored by woodworkers for unique furniture projects and the knees are also favored by wildlife as a perch to observe swamp happenings. The lumber from bald cypress is resistant to rot, making the wood popular for building, which led to large numbers of cypress tree logging in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s.
Have you seen any cypress trees growing in Ohio? Not much swamp here in the Buckeye State, except for many farmer’s fields (excess rains, unfortunately), but cypress trees are present here. Several stands of cypress exist in Ohio arboretums and a few state parks. Dillon State Park is a host of a cypress tree collection. So how did a cypress swamp show up at Dillon State Park? The facts of how the cypress swamp became part of the park are sketchy, but it is believed to have been a result of the vision of a past Ohio Department of Natural Resources administrator.
During the late 1950’s, the administrator developed a plan of adding a variety of plantings to Ohio’s state parks. He traded species of trees with other states that shared the same idea of tree and plant diversity for the public’s benefit. The cypress trees that grow today in Dillon’s cypress swamp are believed to be a living testament to his efforts.
Natural conservation projects often provide a look at nature’s diversity. Cypress trees in Ohio are a prime example of that. Look around a natural area near you and I bet what you see are the results of similar efforts that brought the common swamp tree of the south to the Midwest.
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