Cypress Knees

Cypress knees amidst
Panoramic beauty
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

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Prompt: Shadow

About becca givens

Becca is an artist, poet, and animal communicator. She delights in cooking, nurturing, and sharing a rich spiritual life with others on the Path.
This entry was posted in Haiku/Senryu and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Cypress Knees

  1. Renee Espriu says:

    I do so love your photos of trees and the cypress is one we do not have here. Now I know something of it and even though I have carved some pieces during my life it is such a shame that the ‘knees’ would be taken to carve from given it would kill the tree. I cherish trees and have only ever carved in pieces from trees that were taken from the forest floor or those pieces left from trees cut and then replaced. We do that here in WA now so that there will be trees in the future. Thank You!


    • becca givens says:

      Renée, thank you! Cypress trees are among my favorites! 😀 I didn’t realize you lived in WA! I hope to visit the state sometime, as I have seen beautiful photographs of it. I have a niece in the Navy stationed there!

      Wishing you joyous Christmas and abundance of blessings in the New Year! ♡


  2. mairmusic says:

    Your words and image mate perfectly– nicely done!


  3. Emily Jane says:

    delicious. love the form. I want to start playing with haikus.


  4. bendedspoon says:

    Interesting! Love the haiku and the photo made me think of Luna 🙂


  5. Oh, I just plain love this! I rang in Y2K amidst the cypress knees and this takes me right back in an economic shot of words. Love love love.


  6. PinkLady says:

    what a lovely haiku, becca! thanks for educating me about cypress trees and their knees. i’m happy to know that they are now protected.


  7. kez says:

    lovely and enjoyed the factual stuff too …thank you


  8. dasuntoucha says:

    If the cypress tree is 30 feet tall, the tap root is 30 feet deep

    …wow…that’s cool…always appreciate poetry accompanied by useful information…nicely done.


  9. Vinay says:

    I admire your haikus so very much, Becca! they have that certain feel to it not everyone can get it 🙂


  10. Michael says:

    Lovely and learnful. Thanks!


  11. Paulami says:

    the picture just adds beauty to the poem. the poem is remarkable.


  12. Jingle says:



  13. Dramatic picture! Love the haiku. I had no idea and have never heard of Cypress knees before – thanks for the lesson! I do wood carving and would love to get my hands on some, but it sounds hard to get. Will have to look for some when I’m down south next.


  14. trisha says:

    i love woodcrafts, and like you i love the living trees more.


  15. Madeleine says:

    I especially love the chakra haiku. Glorious! :O)


  16. quilly says:

    Your lovely haiku grew even more beautiful (and your stunning photo) after I read the history you shared. Thank you. This was a charming, well-balanced post providing something for everyone!


  17. espriurenee says:

    Thank you so much for giving me a beautiful insight as to the nature in your neck of the woods. I have never been but have heard it is quite striking.


    • Becca Givens says:

      In my opinion, it is … whenever I go home … it is the first change in landscape than assures my spirit … I “am home” … you see, no matter, where I live, South Louisiana is always considered “home”! Thank you for visiting. 🙂


  18. Mike Patrick says:

    When I was in high school wood shop, I made a lamp out of a cypress knee. Don’t recall how I got the knee, but my sister still has the lamp fifty years later. It was such a beautiful thing, I did a little research on them at the time. No two are alike, but they are universally beautiful. I’m glad they outlawed cutting them from living trees. I hadn’t heard that before.


  19. Rekha says:

    Some beautiful words for these wonderful creations of nature…thanks for sharing.


  20. Gary says:

    Thank you Becca, for the educational trip through the Louisiana Bayou!
    I know it is a place of haunting beauty, where danger lurks with powerful and hungry jaws.
    The thirsty Cypress is an amazing image of adaptation. The Cypress carries within its woody fabric, a small legend of harsh conditions survived. The story begins to unfold at first sight of those Cypress Knees!

    The information you have presented entices me to come and explore.

    Thank You For Sharing!


    • Becca Givens says:

      Awwww, Gary … what a lovely post. Yes, the cypress tree is unique contribution to our wetlands. The photos cannot do them justice … one must visually experience them. I love them from sunrise to moonrise; cloudy or sunny, it matters not. They have a powerful spiritual energy and vibration about them … 🙂 I do not think you would be disappointed if you visited!


  21. honeyhaiku says:

    This is quite beautiful, Becca. Thank you for your words and the lessons of the Cypress.


    • Becca Givens says:

      The cypress is a near and dear tree to me … I love everything about them – from the landscape contributions to the various ways the wood is used. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂


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