120. Murphy Peterson Wildlife Drive Pocosin Habitat

Most of the woods in front of you are a habitat known as a pocosin. The word pocosin itself is derived from a Native American term which means "Swamp on a Hill". Pocosins are characterized by deep peat deposits; pocosin shrubs and trees grow on an “organic mat” made over long periods of time by decaying vegetation. As more generations of vegetation die, the mat becomes thicker. This organic soil does not “feed” vegetation nearly as well as true soil. So, generally speaking, the deeper the organic mat, the more stunted the trees will appear. Eventually, there trees will cease to exist, leaving the habitat dominated by low shrubs. Soils of pocosin vary from dark-surfaced mineral soils to deep organic soils. In an unaltered condition, pocosin soils develop over thousands of years and drain poorly. If you tried to walk in a natural pocosin, you’d probably sink in the muck, because the only stable surfaces are the root mats. The water in the area of a pocosin is very dark, hence the term “blackwater”. It resembles tea due to the tannic acid from years of rainwater running off through peat soil.