Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Buttonland Swamp

We needed to drive to another section of the Cache River State Natural Area to find a couple more of the state champion trees.  At the Lower Cache River we hiked on another boardwalk through wetland known as Buttonland Swamp.  As we started on the trail a wonderful floral smell wafted over our path.
We first noticed a blackberry bush in bloom, and next to it another flowering bush which also had white blooms- and it was that bush, a wild rose, which offered up to us such a wonderful smell.  It is a bit early in spring for many wildflowers to yet be in bloom, so it was exciting to see those flowers.  Mainly it is phlox, daisies, and buttercups currently flowering.  Judging by the other flowers with buds on them, we could safely guess that in another week or so the forests of Southern Illinois will be decked out in their spring glory.
This is the best picture I could get of the state champion water tupelo.  In the picture above it is the one with a big knob near its lower end- a protuberance with toes is the best way to describe it.  It is located about in the middle of the picture.  The tree has a height of 84 feet.  I sure wonder, out of all the trees in the swamp, who figures out which ones are the champions!   The next champion we saw was also interesting.

 The champion bald cypress is located in the middle of the picture.  True, it looks a bit scrawny and not very impressive.  To be a champion points are assigned based on a tree's measurements: one point for each inch in circumference, height, and one point for one-fourth the crown spread.  And remember that only native Illinois trees are considered for Big Tree designation.  The bald cypress is 73 feet high.  What is most impressive is that, like many of the other trees within this area,  it is thought to be around 1,000 years old.
On our way back to Marion we decided to stop at Ferne Clyffe state park.  You may remember from a previous posting that we had hiked on some trails in this park about two years ago.  We thought that with all the rain in the previous days the waterfalls there would be impressive.  As you can see in the picture above, that did not turn out to be true.  We still enjoyed our walk around the interesting rock formations, picturesque woods and vistas.  Southern Illinois is fast becoming a favorite area of ours to visit!

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