The Z Tree is one of my favorite compositions to photograph. You’ll find that many of these dwarf cypress trees have interesting shapes and growth patterns, similar to Bonsai trees, making each one unique in its own way. Because of these distinguishing characteristics it has been said that these dwarf cypress trees were used by ancient Americans to help guide them back to their camps.
If you get the opportunity, I highly recommend photographing the Z Tree during a full moon. With the correct lens and exposure time the moon will help light up the tree creating a surreal look, just make sure to bring plenty of mosquito spray!
Depending on the time of the year you visit the park you’ll get completely different compositions. During the winter months which is the dry season in the Everglades you’ll be able to walk straight up to the tree and set up a composition. My favorite time of the year to photograph this tree is during the summer months. There are a lot more mosquitoes and around 2-3 feet of water, however, the landscape and vegetation changes entirely. You’ll find that the tree has lost all of its leaves bringing much more attention to the branches and shape of the tree. The reflections in the water also help add to the composition creating a more dynamic photograph. Make sure to bring waders, otherwise you’ll be forced to take a photograph from the road with a longer lens.
Z Tree Location
The Z Tree is near impossible to spot from the road unless you know the exact location. Once you enter the park continue following 9336 until you pass the Pa-Hay-Okee Lookout Tower. You’ll find the tree on your left about 2.2 miles after Pa-Hay-Okee on 9336. The tree is about 20-30 yards off the road on the south side. I’ve seen plenty of alligators around this area during the wet season, so make sure to keep an eye out, especially if you’re there at night.