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Baldcypress Taxodium distichum

Other Common Name(s):

Description

Taxodium distichum, commonly called bald cypress, is a long-lived, pyramidal conifer (cone-bearing tree) which grows 50-100' tall (less frequently to 125').  Old trees develop a wide, spreading base that narrows up the trunk with diameters as thick as 3-6'.  It is one of the longest living trees in the world and its rings hold years of climate data.  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 stands, with its branches heavily draped with Spanish moss. In cultivation, however, it grows very well in drier, upland soils.

The bald cypress is easily grown in average, medium to wet, moisture-retentive but reasonably well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. 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. The bald cypress is a low maintenance tree with easy fall cleanup. It has a large taproot and is slightly salt tolerant. 

The roots grow knobby, conical "knees" that rise up from the ground.  The heavy, straight-grained, rot-resistant wood has been used for a variety of purposes including barrels, railroad ties, and shingles.  The sapwood is cream colored while the heartwood is brown.

 Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Twig blight is an occasional disease pest. Chlorosis often occurs in alkaline soils.

Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Monarch of Illinsis'
  • v. imbricarium
    "Pond Cypress". Awl-like leaves close to the stem. Greyer bark. Grows in ponds.
  • v. mexicana Taxodium distichum v. mexicana
Tags:
#deciduous#birds#bark#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#conifer#salt tolerant#cover plant#tsc#clay soil#air pollution tolerant#playground#coastal#showy fruits#wet sites#flooding#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#nesting sites#native#frequent standing water
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Monarch of Illinsis'
  • v. imbricarium
    "Pond Cypress". Awl-like leaves close to the stem. Greyer bark. Grows in ponds.
  • v. mexicana Taxodium distichum v. mexicana
Tags:
#deciduous#birds#bark#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#native tree#conifer#salt tolerant#cover plant#tsc#clay soil#air pollution tolerant#playground#coastal#showy fruits#wet sites#flooding#highly beneficial coastal plants#cpp#low flammability#NC native#deer resistant#children's garden#native garden#fire resistant#Braham Arboretum#fantz#nesting sites#native#frequent standing water
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Taxodium
    Species:
    distichum
    Family:
    Cupressaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The wood is used for construction, flooring, cabinetry, and fences
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southern U.S.A., NC, Mexico
    Distribution:
    Southeastern US
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Ducks eat the seeds.  Hollows and natural cavities that form in older trees are used as cover by wildlife. It is moderately resistant to damage from deer.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Resistant to fire, moderately resistant to damage by deer, slightly salt tolerant,
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Tree
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Horizontal
    Open
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Fine
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Frequent Standing Water
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Usda Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Purple/Lavender
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits, cones on the bald cypress are round, wrinkled, 1 inch in diameter, and purplish-green that matures to brown. The scales are thick and irregular.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers, conifer
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Orange
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Acicular
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    1/4 to 3/4" long, flat needles in two ranks on each branchlet. It is soft, feathery, yellowish-green in the spring, sage green in summer, and orange/cinnamon-brown in the fall. Branchlets fall to the ground, leaves still attached, soon after.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Ridges
    Bark Description:
    The bark is dark red-brown to silver-brown with many thin, vertical ridges. Trunks are flared or fluted (buttressed) at the base. In water, they develop knobby root growths ("knees") which protrude above the water surface.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Grows a number of thick, heavy branches each with numerous small "branchlets" of leaves.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Pond
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Erosion
    Fire
    Pollution
    Salt
    Wet Soil