Water levels change
constantly in the marsh. Heavy
rains can raise the water level quickly, but it drains
away just as fast. All this fluctuation in the flow of
water washes away what little soil the vegetation has
managed to take root in.
Most of the plants
and trees that grow in the marsh have very shallow root
systems that create a thick, spongy mat on the surface
of the soil. The water washes the soil out from underneath
this mat of roots, causing bushes and trees to fall over.
Smaller plants drop
their seeds on higher ground and die off. Trees like Maples
- with very shallow roots and tall, fully leafed branches
- pull up big chunks of sod as they fall over and die.
Cabbage Palms, however, are designed to live very well
in their ever-changing environment. As the ground falls
away underneath them they gracefully slide over the edge,
but they don't fall down.
The Cabbage Palms
quickly curve upwards to the sun, while maintaining their
firm hold in the ground.
can see by the many trees leaning at different angles that
this process has been going on for a long, long time!