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Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

| Swamp Trail | Marsh Trail |

Map of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Map showing location of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
Much of the land within WCA-1 consists of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). The Refuge consists of sawgrass marsh and some cypress forest and covers about 146,000 acres. It is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is located within the northernmost part of the Everglades, on US 441/State Road 7, southwest of West Palm Beach. To the west of Loxahatchee NWR is the Everglades Agricultural Area and to the east are urban communities.

Take a walk along the Swamp Trail, through the center of a cypress swamp.

A photo gallery is available for this page. [Photos taken April, 2000]

Cypress Swamp Boardwalk Trail photo of trees along boardwalk
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The 0.4-mile Cypress Swamp Boardwalk trail starts and ends at the Loxahatchee Visitor Center.

Butterfly garden
photo of blue flowers of nettleleaf velvetberry
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Tiny blue flowers of nettleleaf velvetberry grow in the butterfly garden in front of the Visitor Center. This shrub generally prefers moist, fertile soils, but tolerates drought. It generally blooms year-round and grows quickly.
photo of hot-pink flowers
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Hot-pink pentas (nectar plants) star-shaped flowers bud and grow in the butterfly garden in front of the Visitor Center. Pentas are popular butterfly garden plants.

Freshwater swamp photo of swamp
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The cypress swamp at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is a freshwater swamp. Freshwater swamps are generally wet, wooded areas where standing water occurs for at least part of the year.
photo of freshwater swamp
Freshwater swamp in front of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center. [larger image]

photo of freshwater swamp
Freshwater swamp near the beginning of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. [larger image]

Aquatic plants duckweed and water spangles carpet the swamp waters near the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and near the beginning of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Duckweed and water spangles are floating plants that are found throughout Florida. Water spangles have paired rounded leaves with stiff, hairs above and roots beneath. Duckweed has oblong leaves that are usually attached to one another; each leaf has a root beneath. photo of duckweed
Close-up of the small aquatic plants that cover the swamp waters.
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Long heart-shaped leaves and a few violet-blue flowers of the pickerelweed extend above the swamp waters. Pickerelweed commonly grows in calm waters throughout Florida and generally blooms in all but the winter months.
photo of pickerelweed
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Epiphytes - "Air Plants"
photo of cypress trees
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Epiphytes thrive among the tall cypress trees. The most abundant epiphytes found within the swamp include spanish moss, ball moss, reflexed wild pine and cardinal wild pine.
The gray leaves of spanish moss can be seen dangling from cypress trees all along the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Spanish moss is an epiphyte that is related to the pineapple. It does not have roots and is not a parasite; it uses trees for support only. Spanish moss is commonly found throughout Florida. photo of spanish moss
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A cypress tree supports the flowering cardinal wild pine bromeliad. photo of cardinal wild pine bromeliad on cypress tree
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Bromeliads are members of the pineapple family. The pineapple-like leaf arrangement is common to the family.

The leaf arrangement of this epiphyte, "air plant", helps it to accumulate water. This collection of water between its leaves provides a habitat for mosquitoes and other aquatic insects, small tree frogs, frogs, and lizards.

IPIX - Cypress Swamp Boardwalk
Stop on the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk and take in the scenery. Vegetation abounds! Ferns, cypress trees and air plants are abundant here.

Navigate around this 360° view of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

  IPIX image of Lake Okeechobee's Herbert Hoover Dike, Rim Canal and agricultural fields
Note: You will need the free IPIX viewer to view this 360° image  

These are but some of the colorful flying insects you can see while walking along the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk at Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
photo of dragonfly
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photo of green dragonfly on boardwalk
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photo of dragonfly on leaf
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photo of red lichen on tree
Red patches of "baton-rouge" lichen stand out against the lush, green, fern-covered understory of cypress swamp. [larger image]
Lichens are made up of two symbiotic organisms, algae and fungus. The fungus collects water and provides the basic structure while the algae makes food via photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process of transforming light energy (the sun) into chemical energy (sugars, food).

Lichens are good biological indicators of air quality as they will die when exposed to air pollutants.

Types of lichens found within the swamp of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge include foliose, "baton-rouge", fruticose and old man's beard.

photo of lichen on tree trunk
Foliose lichens on a tree trunk. [larger image]

Fabulous Ferns!
Many different fern species prosper in the water and shade of cypress swamp. Some of the ferns found within the swamp include: cinnamon fern, wild Boston fern, royal fern, strap fern, giant leather fern, sword fern, swamp fern and shield fern. photo of ferns and trees
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photo of reddish-colored fern
The red-tinted fronds of a leather fern. [larger image]
photo of shield and royal ferns
Dark green fronds of a shield fern stand out against a mostly royal fern background. [larger image]
photo of ferns and understory
A reddish-colored leather fern frond family sits amidst the predominately green understory. [larger image]

Brown anole photo of brown anole on boardwalk
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Brown anole on the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk. Brown anoles can camouflage themselves by changing from brown to very dark brown, and some can become black.

In the early 1970s, this lizard was introduced to Florida from the Caribbean. Since then, (native) green anole populations have decreased.

More Swamp Shots!
photo of swamp understory
Looking through the swamp understory around the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk.
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photo of swamp
A view of the swamp near the end of the Cypress Swamp Boardwalk.
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photo of cypress trees, red lichen, and spanish moss
Cypress trees with red, baton-rouge lichens and dangling spanish moss.
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Looking up or looking down?
The swamp canopy and the sky are being reflected in the swamp waters so you are actually looking down! photo of sky and swamp canopy reflected in water
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Related SOFIA Information

Below we have listed science projects and publications from studies that are being conducted, or have been conducted, in the area of the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Follow these links to read about each project and to see project-related publications and data.

Science Projects:

Related Publications:



U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Center for Coastal Geology
This page is: http://sofia.usgs.gov /virtual_tour/loxahatchee/index.html
Comments and suggestions? Contact:
Heather Henkel - Webmaster (hhenkel@usgs.gov)
Last updated: January 15, 2013 @ 12:44 PM (HSH)