Posey County’s Cypress Sloughs provide the experience of a Deep South ecosystem in Southern Indiana. Magnificent Bald Cypress trees, and their attendant knees, line the water and provide important habitat for an intriguing variety of wetland plants and animals, some that make their home there, others that just pass through, and a few that are endangered and rely on our local habitat for survival.
The sloughs are great spots for birdwatchers. The Prothonotary Warbler is a rare bird that’s sometimes seen there. Red headed woodpeckers are common. Yellow crowned night herons have nested here from time to time. Rare plants include a particular species of Goldenrod and several Oaks that are unique to this area. As one would expect in a swamp, there are many amphibians, including the Lesser Siren, an amphibian with vestigial legs, as well as a wide variety of frogs.
No two cypress sloughs are identical. Each is unique. But in general, they are areas of slightly lower elevation than the surrounding land. Places where water naturally congregates.The Bald Cypress, which dominates the slough, is a cousin to the California redwood, a deciduous conifer which loses its leaves in winter. Cypress trees are known for their “knees,” woody projections which are part of the root system but pop out of the ground in the area surrounding the trees. Their purpose is unknown but scientists speculate that they provide additional oxygen to tree and/or help anchor the Cypress in the soft muddy soil in which it thrives.
If you consider a visit, keep in mind that Cypress Sloughs can be inhospitable places throughout much of the year. They are very muddy when it is wet, and mosquito infested when it is hot. Many of the roads near the Point flood during rainy seasons. So if you want to visit during those times, plan accordingly.
But when the weather is nice and relatively dry, Posey County’s Cypress Sloughs are natural wonders with incredible light and diverse plants and wildlife.