Happy Mystery Monday! Can you guess who is pictured in photo #1?
The answer to last week’s mystery is bald cypress knees, pictured in photo #2.
Why do bald cypresses have knees, or pneumatophores? Scientists still don’t know for certain. There are, however, two generally accepted theories in the scientific community.
The first theory is the need for aeration, but this idea is still argued by many. It was found that in some trees growing in deeper water there was an absence of knees on the roots entirely, which seems to cast doubt on that theory.
Another suggestion is that the knees are involved in “enlarging and strengthening the basal support” of the tree’s root system, acting as a ‘hedge’ by protecting the water from debris being washed down after storms.
All the scientific theories to this day remain a mystery, says Mark Musselman, education director at the Audubon Center in South Carolina.
Bald cypress is distributed along the coastal plain from southern Delaware to southern Florida, west to southeastern Texas, and inland along the Mississippi Valley as far north as southern Illinois and Indiana.
Mystery Monday is sponsored by the Spy Newspapers and Adkins Arboretum.