Just like you know it's really wet in the swamp when the "usually high and dry" pinelands get shallowly flooded, it isn't until the "low-lying and usually wet" pond apple go dry that the swamp enters the tightening grip of deep drought.
|Pond apple roots are still submerged (for now),|
but in recent years they've been more visible
compared to a wetter period in the 1990s
How far are we from that condition?
Away from canals, water depths among the pond apple trees (often found in the center hole of the cypress domes) is still a good foot deep. But it's not a matter of if, but when and how long. Everyone once in while (i.e. most recently in 2010), we have a year where the pond apple hold water all year round, but usually we can count on them to go dry at some point in the spring. The importance of water in the pond apple is that it serves as an indicator that the swamps natural fire breaks (i.e. sloughs, strands, and marsh) are still holding water.
Since 1992, pond apple forests have averaged an annual hydroperiod of 10.5 months.
That means water in a pond apple swamp in April is a rare sight.