Nestled amongst the vastness of Everglades National Park, Florida is a tree as iconic as the park itself.

The dwarf cypress trees of Everglades are old and small when compared to their ‘peers’ but has stood firmly facing the atrocities of human beings as well as mother nature – harsh Florida summers, thundering monsoons, hurricanes, flooding to say the least.

Their small size is due to the fact that the soil they grow in are naturally deficient in nutrients leading to stunted growth. This actually turned out to be a boon for them as due to their size, they were considered worthless and spared by the wood loggers of the early 1900’s.

One of the iconic of the dwarf cypress is the Z tree or as some call it the N tree.

It is believed that the ancient dwellers of this land used the special shape of the tree as a landmark for navigation.

What makes the Z tree so special is that this is probably the only one accessible from mainland/road.

How I came across the Z tree?

I came across this wonder, browsing for places of interest while planning for the everglades trip with friends.

How to spot the Z tree?

Entering the park from the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center if you head south towards Flamingo point, you can find the tree at roughly 15 miles from the entrance ( A few hundred feet ahead of the Sisal Pond).[su_gmap address=”25.398155, -80.793472″]

Although I have been to everglades earlier it was only from the outskirts, on an airboat ride provided by many of the alligator farms set up across the boundary of the park. This was the first time any of us were going inside the actual boundaries of the park and to be honest we were grossly under prepared.

Our target was to frame the sunrise and Z tree in a single shot. After 2 missed attempts we finally spotted the z tree but as we got out of the vehicle all excited and pumped up we were ambushed by flies and mosquitoes from all directions possible. It was low tide, but the land was wet, and we went ankle deep in the mud. Thankfully no gators around (No kidding, gators are common all over the swamp lands, specially when the water levels are high enough for them to remain peacefully submerged).

The 20 minutes I spent there was the worst 20 minutes of the entire trip.

Dressed in casual shorts and t shirts I had my legs badly swollen from the bites. Without the slightest exaggeration, it resembled those of a peripheral edema patient. Thankfully none of the mosquitoes or flies were infectious as I later confirmed with a park ranger. Our bug spray failed us and for the rest of our time inside the park we were extremely paranoid of exiting the vehicle.

Some First hand Tips:

  • Try to cover  as much of your body as possible(wear cotton gloves and face mask if possible. Take special precaution for areas like the nose /ears.)
  • Use a strong bug spray for any exposed areas.
  • Normal shoes are workable during low tides but high boots preferable.
  • Look out for gators or snakes before stepping off the main road.

Sashank taking some final shots of the tree before we leave.

The Road to Nirvana

The trip continued, and we had a long day ahead.

As part of the upcoming Earth Day, I would be jotting down some interesting experiences depicting the beauty of mother nature this entire month. Stay tuned for the new posts.

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