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Upland Oaks

Bayou-Diversity (29 April 2018) UPLAND OAKS In the last blog I discussed oaks that grow in the Louisiana lowlands. As was the case with these bottomland hardwoods, oaks were also once a common component of upland forests in north Louisiana. One native upland habitat type is classified as oak-hickory-shortleaf pine forest. Extensive tracts of natural forests in the uplands are now uncommon, most having been converted to loblolly pine plantations for commercial purposes. In fact, the loss of native upland forests is greater than that in bottomlands as estimates are that less than ten percent remain. In this region, examples of upland oaks in the red oak group include shumard oak, souther

Lowland Oaks

Bayou-Diversity (22 April 2018) LOWLAND OAKS Oaks were once a major component of Louisiana landscapes. From the highest hills to just one step above cypress brakes, oaks were found in a variety of habitats. Today we’ll consider those that grow in lowlands, such as are found in the parishes east of Monroe to the Mississippi River. Oaks can be divided into two major groups consisting of red oaks and white oaks. The white oak group usually has leaves with rounded edges and their acorns mature in a single season. Examples of white oaks that grow in lowlands include overcup oak, delta post oak, and swamp chestnut oak, also known as cow oak. The leaves of red oaks are usually bristle-tipped a


Bayou-Diversity (15 April 2018) It is quiet here now on the edge of this swamp, quieter than it has been in many years. Perhaps the level of background noise approaches that when my father was a boy here 75 years ago. I live in the woods off of a rural parish road and almost two miles from a major highway. Even so, typically a steady barrage of traffic sounds – mainly from log trucks on the highway – filters through the trees to persist as an annoying backdrop. It is quiet now because the swamp is behaving as a swamp should behave and has flooded the parish road. Likewise, the flowing backwaters have eroded the foundation of a bridge on the highway, forcing its closure too and the re-ro

Winds of War

Bayou-Diversity (8 April 2018) The Civil War citadel of Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863. On that day Confederate regiments marched out one at a time and stacked their arms. Of that occasion, General Grant’s telegraph operator, Samuel Beckwith, wrote, “The tramping of myriads of feet had stirred up a fine, yellow clay dust that coated our garments and filled our eyes and ears and nostrils until it was almost unbearable.” Like the Union soldiers, this dust had origins far to the north of the Vicksburg hills. The geologic term for the soil type is loess (pronounced low-ess). It is strikingly noticeable on the deep road-cuts along I-20 in Vicksburg. Most of our soils in this region were depo


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