Things to see and do at this stop:
This boardwalk, as do nearly all the others, terminates against a feature that goes by the unlovely name of "pimple mound." It is a roughly circular lens of rich loam soil about two feet thick, perched upon the local soil surface. On the Winding Trail, if you are not standing on a boardwalk, you are on a pimple mound!
Pimple mounds occur widely in North America and there is much controversy about some of their origins. These almost certainly were created by silt and sand accumulating around some obstruction during the not-uncommon floods of yesteryear. Their rich, well-drained soil supports plants that are rare elsewhere in the sanctuary, such as the grove of farkleberries on the third mound. A phenomenon common on Houston's pimple mounds is the presence of shallow rectangular pits near their crests. These are artifacts of pre-television days when local boys would dig the pits, roof them with planks, and cover the planks with soil to build "hideouts." The one on this mound has been obliterated by time and the feet of many visitors.
Between this mound and the next, the boardwalk crosses an area featuring plants which are tolerant of both shade and poorly-drained soil. Our native palmettos are palms without discernible trunks. Their fronds emerge directly from the soil. They are true indicators of flood-prone ground. The small, spindly trees near the boardwalk are hawthorns; the parsley hawthorn with somewhat parsely-like deeply-cut leaves and the little-hip hawthorn with simple, spatula-shaped leaves. The name "little hip" refers to the fruits which resemble tiny rose hips. Hawthorns are, in fact, members of the rose family. Hawthorn fruit is vitamin-rich, very tasty, and avidly eaten by many birds. One variety, May haw, makes superb jelly. There are some very large and impressive hawthorns farther back in the woods. They are briefly spectacular as seen from the trail twice a year: when they are in full bloom in the spring, and before the birds realize the bright red fruit has ripened in the fall.
Directions to the next stop: