Hatch-in-e-haw (Wood Everlasting), is what the Seminole Indians called Bald Cypress wood taken from the virgin old growth forests. At one time old growth cypress forests were throughout the southeast, including Florida, and truly magnificent. The trees reached 12 to 14 feet in diameter. There were even stories of trees reaching 25 feet in diameter. Some cypress trees were over 160 feet tall and lived up to 3,000+ years. The closest living relative of Bald Cypress are the Redwoods and the Giant Sequoia in California.
These virgin forests were completely logged out between 1850 and 1930. There are a few trees left here and there, these are protected from logging. For example, “Old Senator” in Longwood, Florida. During this period many logs were left in the swamps or had sunken to the bottom of rivers and lakes, while traveling to the mill in log rafts.
The recovery of these logs is termed “deadheading”, which began in the early 1940’s and continues on today. However, most of the logs have been reclaimed and are getting much more difficult to find. I have established a relationship with loggers, mills and deadhead cypress divers. I can obtain this valuable wood, both air dried and kiln dried.
What makes cypress so rot resistant is an oil called cypressene located in the heartwood. Old growth contains the highest concentration of cypressene. The stability and strength of old growth cypress is found in it’s high growth ring count (15-50 per inch). The many different tones of red, yellow, burgundy and chocolate are common to this wood.
Old growth cypress is my preferred wood for my gate designs and outdoor furnture. For those of you interested in using this fine wood in other projects, it is an excellent alternative to other woods such as Teak or Ipe. I would be happy to design and fabricate any kind of general mill work from old growth cypress. I can also supply old growth lumber to those who prefer to fabricate their own projects.