Cypress swamps are a common ecosystem in Southeast Texas. These swamps play a very important role in providing a habitat for numerous species of animals, and their ability to store excess water benefits the area’s human population as well. The many cypress and tupelo trees give the Shangri La swamp its name. These types of trees both have wide bases, or buttresses, which make them especially adapted for swamp life. The bald and pond cypress trees are deciduous conifers (needle-leaf) with small round cones and peeling bark, while the broadleaf tupelo trees have bell-shaped trunks and resemble oak trees. Both kinds of cypress trees have “knees” that grow up from their roots to help anchor them in the flooded environment. Many of the bald cypress trees in the U.S. were cut down in the late 1800s and the early 1900s because cypress was sought after for its termite-resistant quality. As a result, cypress was a very popular wood for building in Southeast Texas. Today, Shangri La assists in the preservation of these natural treasures through its educational programs and earth-friendly practices.