Although Florida wetlands are protected (to a
certain extent), wetland trees may not be, which means that
cypress--those lovely, stout-based conifers with the feathery green
foliage and the whimsical knees--often get logged. Cypress heads
provided valuable habitat for many species of wildlife, including
black bear, wood stork and white ibis.
Because cypress requires saturated soil, it does
not lend itself to tree farming. Although once abundant throughout
the Southeast, early logging was so thorough that few large cypress
trees remain today. However, the smaller trees, most with diameters
less than 12 inches, are harvested and chipped into mulch that is
packaged for retail sale.
Mulching gardens conserves water, but the use of
cypress mulch inadvertently supports an even greater environmental
loss. Save cypress swamps and other forested wetlands by avoiding
cypress mulch. Ask, instead, for mulch made from invasive
nonnatives like melaleuca or Australian pine. And as you mulch,
here and there in your garden leave patches of soil exposed for
dusting by birds.