Lake Dauterive at 1,000-Year-Old Cypress
What's the Story?
Though named as two separate lakes, Lake Dauterive and Lake Fausse Pointe function as one natural body of water. Lake Dauterive (located north of Lake Fausse Pointe) is just west of Bayou Chene and drains south into Lake Fausse Pointe. It was cut off from the Atchafalaya River when the Atchafalaya Basin levees were built in the 1930s. Today the lake receives runoff from surrounding lands and is relatively shallow, with depths ranging from nine or 10 feet at its deepest point to a mere 18 inches in areas of high sedimentation.
This lake is home to an approximately 1,000-year-old cypress tree—one of the oldest documented in Louisiana. This tree has a circumference of 17 feet and a diameter of 5.4 feet. It is among a group of old growth cypress that was not harvested between 1870 and 1920, when loggers clear-cut many ancient cypress groves throughout south Louisiana. The tree’s age was estimated from core density of samples taken from its exterior.
In their native habitat, bald cypress trees display a peculiar habit of raising conical "knees" from their roots. The function of these growths is still a mystery, although some believe it is a way to help the roots get oxygen or to provide stability for the tree. Unlike most conifers—which are evergreens—the bald cypress is deciduous, meaning it loses its needles in the fall. This gives the tree a “bald” appearance part of the year. An icon in southern swamps, the bald cypress is Louisiana’s State Tree.
Lake Dauterive was named after A. B. Dauterive, a prominent planter who owned St. Rose de Lima Plantation (later named Caroline Plantation), once located at the lake. The Dauterive family was French and of noble descent. Their name was formerly spelled “D'Hauterive,” and early accounts of the 1862 Confederate Camp Dauterive refer to the area as “deHuitreve” or “doctrive.”
This site’s geology/geomorphology: Holocene backswamp deposits of Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers
Site GPS Coordinates: 30.101159, -91.628845
Closest Address: 3887 Bayou Benoit Levee Road, St. Martinville, LA 70582
Driving Directions: From Henderson, head south on Henderson Levee Road for ~4.5 miles. Continue straight to stay on Catahoula Levee Road for ~5.5 miles. Continue straight to stay on Bayou Benoit Levee Road for ~10 miles to the site across the road from Bayou Benoit Landing.
Trail Site Information
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