Missouri Department of Natural Resources
- See a fantastic sinkhole pond that is a National Natural Landmark.
- Look at water tupelo trees growing far removed from their typical southeastern lowlands range.
- On damp and warm spring days and evenings listen to the primordial sounds of hundreds of toads and frogs calling across the sinkhole pond swamp.
Cupola Pond is a swamp located in a sinkhole, a depression caused by a dissolving of the underlying rock, in this case dolomite, followed by a collapse of the land’s surface. The sinkhole basin is around 40 feet lower than the surrounding ridge. Here a five acre depression holds water and supports plants and animals not typical of the surrounding dry Ozark woods. Unlike most sinkholes, Cupola Pond has clay lenses and peat deposits that prevent water from quickly entering cave conduits below. This allows water to pond during all but drought years.
Cupola Pond is a mysterious place where century old water tupelos form a canopy over a shallow wetland with scattered patches of buttonbush, sedges, and mosses. Water tupelo is typically found growing in the Mississippi Lowlands region with bald cypress. Also unusual is the rare epiphytic sedge that grows on old logs and hummocks that stick out of the pond’s water. This sedge is typically found growing in the coastal plain swamps of the southeast. Fishless ponds such as this are very important breeding habitat for amphibians. At least seven amphibian species use the area including the rare wood frog, the marbled salamander, and the spotted salamander. In the spring the chorus of frogs and toads can be deafening.