Northern White-cedar swamps are one of the most interesting natural resources that I’ve explored in northeastern U.S. I’m fortunate to live near two in central New York, one about 1500 acres and largely State-owned, the other about 700 acres. Both are federally protected wetlands. These sites are low and poorly drained, with saturated soils that are fed and enriched by springs and mineral-rich groundwater. Wet, organic muck soils, downed trees in various stages of decomposition and scattered hummocks characterize the forest floor. Northern White Cedar is the dominant tree. Common associates include Red Maple, Tamarack, Balsam Fir, Black Ash, Eastern Hemlock, Yellow Birch and White Pine trees.
Forest understory site in a protected Northern White Cedar swamp
Large wetlands like these are mysterious, pristine, biologically rich places that afford unique opportunities for observing and photographing nature through the seasons. I usually hike into a cedar swamp looking for something in particular, perhaps an orchid in bloom, but end up on a “discovery walk”, investigating everything that catches my eye, ranging from fungi to rotting logs and ancient White Pines.
Old growth White Pine tree (double-stem), hundreds of years old, growing on a hummock
Goldthread (Coptis), a common wildflower in cedar swamps
My knowledge of non-flowering plants – fungi, ferns, etc. – is not nearly as impressive as my reference library, so in many cases I leave those images unlabeled.
Mushroom; Wild Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum) leaf in front
Royal Fern (Osmunda) fiddlehead
Bracket fungus (1 of 2)
Photos by NB Hunter ©All Rights Reserved