Natchez Trace Parkway: Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp in fall

December 11, 2014  •  2 Comments

As mentioned in the previous post, the nature trails along the Natchez Trace Parkway are a popular feature which add to the enjoyment of the travel experience.  Two stops along the Trace allow access to one of the typical Southeastern ecosystems – the Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp. 

Nature trails with boardwalks at two places along the Trace,  Cole Creek (mile 175.6) and Cypress Swamp (mile 122), allow visitors to get a close-up look at this ecosystem without the need for waders or a boat.

Not many trees can survive in continuously flooded conditions, but the Water Tupelo and the Baldcypress are two species that can.  Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer that can grow up to 25 to 40 feet high with a trunk diameter of two to three meters. The wood is very resistant to rot which may contribute to its longevity – one specimen in North Carolina is over 1600 years old.

The Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica) is similar in appearance to the Baldcypress – notably the swollen base of the tree – but it is not a conifer. Rather it produces masses of flowers in the spring (which make it a favorite with bees) and bears a fruit that looks rather like an olive. The bark of the tupelo is smooth and gray and mosses grow readily on it. The Baldcypress has an orange-tinted bark, a bit shredded at the base, and not as apt to harbor mosses.

A short walk through these swamps on a partly cloudy day revealed intriguing shapes, shadows, and reflections.

Reflections in Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp, MississippiReflections in Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp, Mississippi

Tupelo-Baldcypress Swamp, MississippiTupelo-Baldcypress Swamp, Mississippi

Late fall color in a Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp, MississippiLate fall color in a Tupelo-Baldcypress swamp, Mississippi


Susan Sparling(non-registered)
Really lovely. You have just added a place to my wish list. Keep 'em coming. I also miss you.
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