Cypress and other trees are reflected in a Cypress swamp on Teel Road in the Lance Rosier Unit.
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The Big Thicket is unique in it's diversity and was designated an International Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in 1981.
Wildly different types of vegetation can coexist mere inches apart in this heavily forested region, which contains 10 distinct ecosystems.


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Import charges previously quoted are subject to change if you increase you maximum bid amount. Orchids hobnob with towering longleaf pines; palmetto trees mingle with swamp-loving cypress.
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Ferns are neighbors to prickly pear cacti.The Big Thicket is a fraction of what it once was, but pieces are still hanging on, thanks to people like Geraldine Watson, who helped create the Big Thicket National Preserve, and then established a preserve of her own. The Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve is named for her husband, Earl, who stood by her when her conservation activism made her an outcast.The natural wonders of the Big Thicket entranced Watson from the time she was a little girl. Watson, along with naturalist Lance Rosier and other conservationists, began working to protect what eventually became the Big Thicket National Preserve, the nation’s first national preserve. The fight for preservation was long and heated, and Watson was at the center of it.“She was the mouthpiece,” Big Thicket park ranger Paula Rivers said. Lumber companies pushed back, telling people they would lose their homes if the preserve were established.


She cataloged the plants, delineated the vegetation zones, and laid out the 35 miles of hiking paths, which are mostly flat, easy walks passing through all the various ecosystems. One trail is particularly good for birding, while another goes through stands of pitcher plants, one of the four carnivorous plants found on the preserve.Watson eventually left the National Park Service, frustrated by its lack of funding and some of its conservation practices.
One day, while birding by a lake near the town of Warren, she spotted a piece of land she knew right away she wanted to live on.
She bought that parcel and adjacent ones as she could, built a home there and created the Watson Rare Native Plant Preserve, a refuge for the land’s many species of plants.“I don’t want people to think this is just a wildflower garden, that I go out and collect wildflowers everywhere and bring them here and plant them,” she said. The sundew also grows close to the ground, a little rosette of pink spoon-shaped leaves studded with mucilaginous glands that look, quite frankly, carnivorous.The giant pitcher plant is easiest to spot, standing like a little samovar with its lid up. A sweet-scented nectar invites insects in, and “they slide down into a pool of digestive fluid,” park ranger Paula Rivers explains. Because it can get nutrients from the insects it eats, the pitcher plant can tolerate terrible soil, from tight clay to soggy mud.Sophia DemblingWhen you goThe Big Thicket National Preserve is near Kountze, about 30 miles from Beaumont. Entry is free, but permits (also free) are required for backpacking, overnight river use and hunting.



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