Dwarf Cypress Stand in Tate’s Hell State Forest

Dwarf Cypress Stand in Tate’s Hell State Forest

This one-of-a-kind oddity is a bowl-shaped depression in the forest covering dozens of acres.  For no known reason, the cypresses here have never grown more than about 20’ tall.  (Normal cypress growth can be more than 100’) Also known as Bonsai or Hat-Rack Cypress – these trees are found throughout Tate's Hell, but nowhere more pronounced than in the area of this boardwalk. Many of the trees are more than 300 years old, but they grow to a height of only 6-15 feet. No one is exactly sure what causes the cypress in this area to be dwarfed. The trees are not genetically different from other pond-cypress trees in the area, and seeds from these trees will grow to normal heights when planted on other sites. The soil in this area is very deep before hitting bedrock, but there is a layer of hard clay that may prevent the cypress roots from growing deeper. The soil is also very low in nutrients, as evidenced by the many carnivorous plants in the area.

The economic history of this forest area begins with logging. You may still observe an "open" area running right down its center, because that was the original logging trail for cutting and removal of the large cypress that once grew in the area. "Old" cypress logging is no longer done here, and the ecology is being returned back to its natural state through the efforts of the Florida Forestry Department's Tate's Hell division.

Facilities include information kiosk with excellent interpretation of the ecosystem, picnic tables, boardwalk, and observation tower.

The Ralph G. Kendrick Boardwalk, built by the Forest Service, provides an overlook for safe and wheelchair-accessible viewing. 

Important Note:  All forest roads are unpaved and should not be attempted in wet weather or after dark.  Your phone may not work in the forest.

Location via GPS:  The boardwalk overlook at the Dwarf Cypress Stand is located at the following coordinates:
29 degrees 50’05.58” N
 84 degrees 47’35.65” W

Categories: Day Trips