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Taxodium distichum

Common Name(s):
Bald cypress
'Monarch of Illinsis'
Native Plants, Trees

Taxodium distichum, commonly called bald cypress, is a long-lived, pyramidal conifer (cone-bearing tree) which grows 50-70' tall (less frequently to 125'). Although it looks like a needled evergreen (same family as redwoods) in summer, it is deciduous ("bald" as the common name suggests). It is native to southern swamps, bayous and rivers, primarily being found in coastal areas from Maryland to Texas and in the lower Mississippi River valley to as far north as the southeast corner of Missouri. In the deep South, it is a familiar sight growing directly in swampy water, often in large strands, with its branches heavily draped with Spanish moss. In cultivation, however, it grows very well in drier, upland soils. Trunks are buttressed (flared or fluted) at the base, and when growing in water, often develop distinctive, knobby root growths ("knees") which protrude above the water surface around the tree.

The bald cypress is an easy fall cleanup.

It has a large taproot and is slightly salt tolerant. 

The heavy, straight-grained, rot-resistant wood has been used for a variety of purposes including barrels, railroad ties, and shingles.

Compare this Plant to:   Taxodium distichum v. mexicana

Regions:  Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest: 

  Leaves:   Fall                Nut/Fruit/Seed:  Fall

Wildlife Value:  The bald cypress is moderately resistant to damage from deer.  Its seeds are eaten by ducks.  Hollows and natural cavities that form in older trees are used as cover by wildlife.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Chlorosis often occurs in alkaline soils. Bagworms, gall mites and spider mites are occasional insect pests and twig blight is an occasional disease pest.

50-100 ft.
Cones on the Bald cypress are rounded, wrinkled, 1 inch in diameter, purplish-green that mature to brown.
The bald cypress is easily grown in average, medium to wet, moisture retentive but reasonably well-drained soils in full sun. It prefers moist, acidic, sandy soils, but tolerates a wide range of soil conditions ranging from somewhat dry soils to wet soils in standing water. This species has been known to tolerate flooded conditions for extended periods of time.
Pyramidal when young; horizontal branches
Full sun, part shade
20-30 ft.
Growth Rate:
Slow to moderate
The soft, feathery, yellowish-green foliage of the Bald cypress (1/4" long, flat needles in two ranks) turns an attractive orange/cinnamon-brown in the fall. Its small leaves spirally around its stem are sage green in summer.
cpp, salt tolerant, tsc, showy fruit, deciduous, street tree, drought tolerant, fall color, birds, wet soil, wildlife, wet, wet site, native, rain garden, bark, deer resistant, highly beneficial coastal plants

NCCES plant id: 2215

Taxodium distichum Form and fall color
Wendy Cutler, CC BY - 2.0
Taxodium distichum Needle like leaves
Forest and Kim Starr, CC BY - 2.0
Taxodium distichum Cones
Tatters, CC-BY-SA-2.0
Taxodium distichum Cypress "knee"
Michelle A, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0