Whatever You Do, Don’t Call it a Swamp

Congaree National ParkThis warning isn’t as dire as heeding the call not to feed Mogwoi after midnight lest they become Gremlins, but evidently Congaree National Park in SC is sensitive about being called a “swamp” when in reality it’s a “floodplain.”

Vocabulary lesson:

  • Swamp = water all the time
  • Floodplain = water present only when a river overflows (10 times a year, in this case)

The trees and plant life are similar, hence the confusion among us layfolk.

What the Muck?

“Muck” is an ACTUAL scientific term. Not only that, but there are classifications of muck. It’s basically dark mud, but some of it is famous for its ability to break down pollutants into harmless ingredients. I mean, it’s not People Magazine famous, but I’m certain that my brainiac Dad has heard of it. Which isn’t saying much for the muck…or for my father.

That’s Some Big Tree You Have

No other place in Eastern North America has a larger area of trees that are 130 feet tall (and some taller). Plus, there are more record trees here than any other place. Records are determined on root base, height, canopy, and other things I stopped taking notes about.

Congaree National Park

It’s Nice to be Knee-ded

Cypress Knees fascinate me. These knobs defy understanding – like me. Do they help Cypress trees balance or breathe when underwater? It’s not known. I first learned about them at the Okefenokee Swamp, where they were mostly submerged. This was an incredible view of their network below the water. The plains were filled with them; plentiful, purposeful, and mysterious.

What element of nature have you encountered for which scientists don’t yet know its purpose?

Congaree National Park, Cypress Knees

2 Responses


Hi Paula. I drop everything to read your posts as soon as they land in my inbox. In answer to your question, cockroaches. How do they really fit into the circle of life? Be safe out there!


Cockroaches? Well, what probably happened is, humans killed off their natural preditor long ago. Must have been either 1. not cute, or 2. using something the humans wanted, like trees or gold.

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