Freshwater swamps usually contain water at least part of the year. In drought years, however, they may dry out completely and their muck soils may burn until rains again flood them.
Freshwater swamps in Florida are usually dominated by cypress
trees or bays. From the air, cypress swamps often appear round or
oblong, or they form strands along streams or “sloughs.” Swamps
dominated by bays are called bayheads. Bays are trees with
evergreen, leathery, broad leaves. Still other swamps are dominated
by hardwoods such as blackgums, maples, elms, and red maples.
Rounded cypress domes are easily seen in Florida’s Flatwoods or pastures. The trees on the shallower edges of these swamps are shorter than those in the deeper center, gibing the swamps an overall “dome” appearance.
The cypress trees lose their leaves in winter, but beautiful new foliage sprouts again in the spring. New leaves on maples are red, and bays have white flowers. Sweetbay leaves are silvery underneath and “shimmer” in the wind. Interesting are plants of several kinds grow on swamp trees. Many ferns, orchids and lilies grow in these swamps; smaller plants often perch on tree buttresses. Several parks and preserves have boardwalks that allow people to examine swamps comfortably.