Matt “The Twig” Largess displaying the enormous size of a Bald Cypress in Arbuckle Creek
Copyright: Matt Largess

Matthew “The Twig” Largess, an HMI consulting Arborist and Owner/Founder of Largess Forestry in North Kingston, RI Has recently discovered an ancient Bald Cypress forest in Lake Arbuckle and Creek, Florida.

The Twig has spent the last 3 years traveling back and forth to this 85-mile forest located south of Orlando, in Frostproof Florida. This undiscovered forest of ancient growth Bald Cypress is protected by it’s remote and relatively unknown location. The forest intersects two counties – Polk and Highland, as well as intersecting two towns, Frostproof and Avon Park.

The forest, on Arbuckle Creek, which drains out of the south from Lake Arbuckle, borders on the east bank of the creek, the Avon Park air force base, one of America’s only live bombing ranges. On the west bank, the site borders Lake Wales Ridge State forest.

The only way into the forest is by boat. And then off trail through a thick tropical jungle forest full of large alligators, many species of poison snakes, wild boars, black bears, and Florida Panthers. This intact old growth virgin forest was completely undiscovered and is one of the greatest scientific discoveries of this century. Largess would like to thank HMI for its partnership in telling the world about this hope diamond of North American forest.

Copyright: Matt Largess

Forest facts:

comparing other old growth forest sites in the southeastern USA to Arbuckle’s old growth forest

  1. Corkscrew swamp old growth cypress forest, Naples, Florida—13 signature trees with diameters of 17 feet cir to 23 feet in circumference has a boardwalk aged at 500 years.


Arbuckle Creek old growth cypress forest– has over 150 trees with larger diameters than Corkscrew, with 3 trees over 30 feet in circumference

  1. Congeree National Park, South Carolina—largest bald cypress tree measured is 29 feet in circumference


Arbuckle Creek old growth cypress forest—largest tree is 33 feet in circumference with possibilities of larger trees as it is not completely surveyed

  1. Beidler Woods old growth cypress forest, South Carolina –cypress trees are similar in size to Florida’s Corkscrew Swamp


Arbuckle Creek old growth cypress forest—cypress trees are larger than all three documented sites

Twigs scientific observations of Arbuckle Creek’s old growth forest:

–this forest was completely unknown to the naturalist community

–it has potential to have endangered or extinct species within its system

–this forest sits within 250,000 acres of a roadless wilderness, making it one of Florida’s rarest ecosystems

–Dr. David Stahle, University of Arkansas, famed old growth specialist and co-founder of the Eastern Native Tree Society of North America, has cored bald cypress trees with Matt Largess in Arbuckle Creek, data from the study is ongoing

–Graham Norman, Official Tree Measurer of Congeree National Park, South Carolina, measured bald cypress trees within the forest of Arbuckle Creek and documented the largest bald cypress he has ever recorded.

–the staff of Lake Wales Ridge State Forest has been notified along with Arbuckle Creek Air Force and has given us permits and has been involved with our ongoing study

–The Blue Bee, Osmia calaminthae, considered extinct 30 years ago was discovered in Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, adjacent to Arbuckle Creek’s old growth site

–this forest has endless scientific discovery possibilities

–Arbuckle Lake also has a rare dwarf pond cypress growing out of the lake’s bottom. Some of these rare trees, a subspecies of Bald Cypress, exceed over 35 feet in circumference

–HMI is a national leader in the green industry and Matthew Largess is proud to have HMI as a partner in the ongoing and scientific study of Arbuckle Creek old growth forest

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