Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/612

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(mostly of one species, Woodwardia Virginica), sedges, sundews, pitcher-plants, etc. The pitcher-plants (Sarracenia minor and S. psittacina) grow two or three times as large in Okefinokee as they do anywhere else. The leaves of S. minor, which had never been known to grow more than a foot tall in the pine-barrens, often attain a height of over three feet in the swamp. The ground in these bogs is everywhere covered with a dense soft carpet of sphagnum.

Where the swamp muck has reached a depth of three or four feet the pines can no longer exist, and the cypress grows much more densely than it does in the bogs, constituting the bulk of the vegetation. Such places are known locally as "bays." There the long moss (Tillandsia usneoides) drapes every tree, though it never grows as luxuriantly as in calcareous or alluvial regions in the same latitude. The shrubs, herbs and mosses in the bays are much the same as in the bogs already described, though considerably less abundant. One shrub deserves special mention on account of its peculiar habit. It is Pieris phillyreifolia, a handsome little evergreen of the heath family, confined to Georgia, Florida and Alabama. It sometimes stands erect, two or three feet tall, but usually it starts at the base of a cypress tree, and its stems insinuate themselves between the inner and outer layers of the bark of the tree, gradually working upward to a height of thirty or forty feet from the ground, and sending out branches with leaves and flowers every few feet. Growing in this way the shrub might easily be taken for a parasite, but its stems can always be traced down to the ground, and they bear no rootlets and never penetrate to the living part of the bark. As far as known this manner of climbing has no parallel in the whole vegetable kingdom.

Where the sandy bottom of the swamp lies six feet or more below the average water level no trees can grow, and we have what are known as "prairies." The prairies are all in the eastern half of the swamp, where their aggregate area is perhaps as much as a hundred square miles. In wet weather the water covers them so that one can go almost anywhere in a shallow boat, especially by following the "'gator roads," or trails made by the alligators; but when the water is low the prairies are impassable for boats while still too boggy to walk in. This being the case at the time of our visit we could only view them from the banks of the canal. The bulk of the vegetation in the prairies consists of "maiden cane" (Panicum digitarioides),[1] interspersed with "fireleaf" or "bull-tongue" (Orontium aquaticum), "wampee" or pickerel weed (Pontederia), white water-lilies (Castalia), and numerous other characteristic aquatic plants. There seems to be no sphagnum, perhaps because it will not grow without shade in that latitude. The

  1. The true cane (Arundinaria), which is said to be very abundant in Dismal Swamp, seems to be entirely absent from Okefinokee, as it is from the Everglades.