Brazos Bend State Park – Bottomland

Cross-section of the Brazos River Floodplain

In the rich soils of the broad floodplain of the Brazos River, trees find ample water and nutrients to thrive. Forest at the bottoms of river valleys are rich in diversity. Changes in elevation of only a few feet mean significant changes in composition of the forest community.

Where Big Creek meets the Brazos River at the lowest point in the park, the land lies only a few inches lower than the picnic area at Hale Lake. This elevation difference is enough to make the bottomland forest along this trail the most diverse and most productive in the park.
But such a good life also has its problems. The same floods that bring fertile, new sediments can uproot trees and sweep away the growth of a century. The river gives and the river takes away.

The red buckeye is a shrub or small tree of the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains. It grows commonly in the pine woods and oak forests of eastern and central Texas, but southwest of Houston it is restricted to the floodplains of the Brazos, Colorado and San Bernard Rivers. It is particularly abundant where Big Creek meets the Brazos River. When buckeyes flower between March and May, watch for ruby-throated hummingbirds pausing to sip nectar before resuming their migration north.

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