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Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.

Discover Nature: Tupelo and Bald Cypress Add Their Colors to Missouri's Fall Landscape

Missouri Department of Conservation
bald cypress fall color

October 18 - October 24

Discover Nature this week as bald cypress and tupelo gum trees add their colors to Missouri’s fall landscape.

Both the bald cypress and the tupelo are romantic trees, often associated with dark, mysterious swamps.

The tupelo has full, graceful foliage, with oval shaped leaves that have a few randomly placed teeth.

Though the Bald Cypress is known as an "evergreen" tree, it isn’t really. Like the hardwoods, its needles turn yellow in the fall and are shed.

Tupelo and cypress trees living in wet conditions tend to have swollen trunks. The swelling may be a reaction to permanent flooding or an adaptation to keep the tree standing in soggy soil. Because a swollen base is wider and offers increased stability, you will seldom see these trees toppled by wind.

A true appreciation for these two graceful wetland tree species must be accompanied by an appreciation for wetlands. With the drainage and clearing of swamps, bald cypress and tupelo trees are much less common today.

Wetlands are the most productive ecosystems in the world, as their value to countless species of wildlife is surpassed by no other type of habitat. Recent surveys indicate that over half of the wetlands in the United States have been lost as a result of drainage and filling, and many of our remaining wetlands have deteriorated in quality because of siltation, pollution and alterations. Wetland protection and restoration is one of conservation's biggest challenges today.

You can find out more about bald cypress and tupelo trees by going online to MissouriConservation.org where you can also learn more about the unique role of wetlands in food production, pollution control, water quality and replenishment of groundwater, flood and erosion reduction, and replenishment of groundwater supplies.

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