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What’s a “Baygall?”

A small baygall in a growing pine plantation near Dry Creek.

 

What is a ‘Baygall’?

Most people today have no idea what a “baygall” is.When I speak to students and read a passage from The Wayfaring Stranger describing a bay gall, they stare as if I’m talking about something on the moon.

The No Man’s Land of westernLouisianais mainly miles of pine trees. Along the creeks and swamps, hardwoods—mainly oaks, beech, and hickories—grow.

When I fly over Beauregard, Vernon, and Rapides Parishes, I’m always amazed at the miles and miles of forests unmarred by civilization.

In areas where the ground is “swampy,” pines won’t grow.Instead the hardwoods with their tolerance for wet ground, take root.

Among the trees that thrive in a wet condition like this are the bay trees.Along with cypress and water tupelo, these trees will grow thickly.

One of my favorite references, the Dictionary of American Regional English, defines a baygall as “an area of low-lying boggy land, overgrown with sweet bay trees; smaller than a swamp.”.

Because of the abundance of bay trees,settlers called these swampy areasbay galls.

Many times these circular “bay galls” would be in the midst of a pine forest or even in open fields.

Bay galls serve as the home for wildlife such as squirrel and deer, who feast on the acorns, woodcocks that probe the wet soil for insects, and wood ducks that feed and roost in areas that hold water.

If anyone has a picture of a larger bay gall, please email it to me.We’ll add it to this blog.

What is a baygall?http://www.nativeventures.net/Baygalls.html

To see and read about a baygall in Natchitoches Parish, visit http://www.rnr.lsu.edu/plantid/webtour/sites/kisatchie029.htm

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

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