Cypress knees amidst
Moon’s shadow dancing
The cypress tree, a major staple to plant life in the bayous, marshes and wetlands is a hauntingly beautiful and unique tree. Its root system is unique as well. Rather than having several roots, the cypress tree has one root, which is as wide as the tree. Its tap root is as deep as the height of the tree. If the cypress tree is 30 feet tall, the tap root is 30 feet deep. Cypress trees are known for being weather resistant – withstanding hurricane force winds.
Cypress knees are a distinctive structure in a root of a cypress tree. It is thought the cypress knees help in providing oxygen to the tree and its roots; as well as assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil. Another function is the cypress knees offer structural support and stabilization. The older the tree, the more cypress knees visible above the water line.
In South Louisiana – the knees are a favorite among wood carvers. However, it is no longer legal to harvest cypress knees from a living tree; cutting the cypress knees will kill the tree.
I have several charming pieces whittled from the cypress knees. These pieces are a cherished part of my South Louisiana heritage.
© rgb for “On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea”, 2011