Bald cypress tree texas

Bald cypress

Bald cypress, (Taxodium distichum), also called swamp cypress, ornamental and timber conifer (family Cupressaceae) native to swampy areas of southern North America. The wood of the bald cypress is valued for its water-resistance and is known as pecky, or peggy, cypress in the lumber trade when it contains small, attactive holes caused by a fungus. The tree is grown as an ornamental for its colourful fall foliage and can be cultivated far north of its native range.

bald cypressesBald cypresses (Taxodium distichum) in a swamp.© Kathryn8—E+/Getty Images

Bald cypresses are long-lived and slow-growing; old trees are usually hollow. A young bald cypress is symmetrical and pyramidal. As it matures, it develops a coarse wide-spreading head. Its tapering trunk is usually 30 metres (about 100 feet) tall and 1 metre (3.3 feet) in diameter. The reddish brown bark weathers to an ashy gray. A tree growing in wet soil is strongly buttressed about the base, and its horizontal roots often send conical woody projections called “knees” above the waterline. The presumed function of the knees is still poorly understood; they may help oxygenate the roots or provide support in the soft muddy soil. The flat needlelike leaves are arranged alternately in two ranks along small twigs. The trees are deciduous, though the leaves can persist year-round in warm climates. The seed cones are green and globular and are typically no larger than 3.5 cm (1.4 inches) in diameter.

bald cypress treesBald cypresses (Taxodium distichum) on Lake Drummond at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia and North Carolina.AdstockRF

The taxonomy of the genus Taxodium is contentious; the genus consists of one to three species. The smaller pond, or upland, cypress of the southeastern U.S. is usually listed as a variety of the bald cypress (T. distichum, variety imbricatum); however, it is sometimes considered to be a separate species (T. ascendens). The closely related Montezuma, or Mexican, cypress (T. mucronatum) is native to the southwestern U.S., Mexico, and Guatemala. It is generally considered to be a separate species and is distinguished from the bald cypress by its shorter, persistent leaves and larger cones. It rarely produces knees.

At 2,624 years, a bald cypress is oldest known living tree in eastern North America

  • One bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) growing along the Black River in the state of North Carolina in the United States is at least 2,624 years old as of 2018, a new study has found.
  • This estimate, researchers say, makes it the oldest known living tree in eastern North America; the fifth oldest-known continuously living, sexually reproducing, non-clonal tree species; and the oldest known wetland tree species in the world.
  • The trees’ growth rings serve as a valuable record of the region’s climate, including rainfall patterns.
  • Large swaths of these ancient bald cypress stands still remain unprotected and need urgent conservation, researchers say.

Ancient bald cypress trees tower along the Black River in the state of North Carolina in the United States. Many of these living trees are over a thousand years old, researchers had estimated in the late 1980s. But there are much older trees still growing tall.

One bald cypress tree (Taxodium distichum) in the Black River swampland is at least 2,624 years old as of 2018, a new study has found. This estimate, researchers say, makes it the oldest known living tree in eastern North America and the oldest known wetland tree species in the world. Another tree is at least 2,088 years old.

“We studied bald cypress … throughout its native range in Latin America and the U.S. This is the best stand we ever found,” David Stahle, a distinguished professor of geosciences at the University of Arkansas, said in a video statement.

From 110 trees in the area, Stahle’s team took out small pencil-sized core samples, moving from the bark on the outside right to the center, without harming the trees. They then studied the samples under a microscope, and used dendrochronology, a method to date the wide and narrow growth rings of the trees, to estimate the age of individual trees.

One of the bald cypress trees in the stand, the team found, is at least 2,624 years, making it number five on the list of the world’s oldest-known continuously living, sexually reproducing, non-clonal tree species. The four trees older than the bald cypress include a Sierra juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) at 2,675 years in California, a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) at 3,266 years in California, an alerce (Fitzroya cuppressoides) at 3,622 years in Chile, and a Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) at 5,066 years in California. (Note: Clonal trees emerge asexually out of the same ancestor, and may survive for tens of thousands of years. For example, a stand of quaking aspen trees in Utah known as Pando have all come out of the same root system and are genetically identical. While each individual tree or stem lives to an average of 130 years, the entire root system is estimated to be 80,000 to 1 million years old.)

The bald cypress is also the oldest-known wetland tree species on Earth, although the researchers acknowledge that the age of wetland trees hasn’t been documented well. There may also be much older bald cypress trees in the Black River swampland, still waiting to be found.

“Because we have cored and dated only 110 living bald cypress at this site, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of trees still present in these wetlands, there could be several additional individual bald cypress over 2,000-years old along the approximately 100 km reach of Black River,” the authors write in the paper.

A bald cypress tree in North Carolina is the oldest known living tree in eastern North America. Image by Dan Griffin.

Tree rings not only tell time, but record climatic history too. In warm, wet years, for example, when trees grow well, the rings are wider, while in drought years, the rings are narrow. The 2,624-year-old bald cypress has now extended the paleoclimate record of the Black River region by some 970 years, the researchers say.

“The oldest trees in eastern North America also record one of the most accurate tree-ring records of growing season rainfall ever found,” Stahle said. “It’s a remarkable discovery and it’s also a wonder that an individual can live this long. And when you add to the fact that the annual rings record the history of the environment, it’s a tremendous paleoclimate record.”

With old-growth forests fast disappearing across the world, the ancient black cypress stand is an extremely valuable relic. Following Stahle’s work in the 1980s, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a U.S.-based conservation NGO, acquired 16,000 acres (6,500 hectares) in the area, creating the Black River Preserve.

“Dr. Stahle’s original work on the Black River, which showed trees dating from Roman times, inspired us to begin conservation on the Black more than two decades ago,” Katherine Skinner, executive director of TNC’s North Carolina chapter, said in the statement. “This ancient forest gives us an idea of what much of North Carolina’s coastal plain looked like millennia ago.”

In recent years though, Stahle’s team has found large swaths of ancient bald cypress stands outside the preserve that have remained unprotected and need urgent conservation.

“When was the last time you went to your favorite old-growth forest and found out that it was 10 times larger than you had previously realized?” Stahle said. “It’s a blessing and a curse because it’s way bigger than we realized but it’s not all conserved. We’re trying to raise awareness and we’ve established this ancient bald cypress consortium for research, education and conservation.”

Bald cypress tree rings hold clues to the region’s climatic history. Image by Dan Griffin.

Banner image of David Stahle in North Carolina’s Black River by Dan Griffin.


Article published by Shreya Dasgupta

Bald Cypress Growing – Planting A Bald Cypress Tree

It’s hard to mistake the bald cypress for any other tree. These tall conifers with flared trunk bases are emblematic of the Florida everglades. If you are considering planting a bald cypress tree, you’ll want to read up on bald cypress information. Here are some tips on growing a bald cypress.

Bald Cypress Information

A bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) isn’t actually bald. Like every living tree, it grows foliage that helps it with photosynthesis. It’s a conifer, so its foliage consists of needles, not leaves. However, unlike many conifers, bald cypress is deciduous. That means that it loses its needles before winter. Bald cypress information suggests that the needles are flat and yellow-green in summer, turning rusty orange and falling in autumn.

The state tree of Louisiana, bald cypress is native to southern swamps and bayous from Maryland to Texas. If you’ve seen photos of this tree, they were likely taken in the Deep South when the tree grows in large stands in swamps, its branches draped with Spanish moss. The trunks of bald cypress flare at the base, developing knobby root growths. In swamps, these look like the tree’s knees just above the surface of the water.

Bald Cypress Growing

You don’t have to live in the Everglades to start bald cypress growing, however. Given appropriate bald cypress care, these trees can thrive in drier, upland soils. Before planting a bald cypress tree, note that the trees only thrive in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. It’s also important to make sure you have the space for bald cypress growing.

These trees grow slowly, but they mature into giants. When you start planting a bald cypress tree in your backyard, try to imagine the tree several decades in the future at 120 feet (36.5 m.) tall with a trunk diameter of 6 (1.8 m.) feet or more. The other piece of bald cypress information to keep in mind involves their longevity. With appropriate bald cypress care, your tree may live 600 years.

Bald Cypress Care

It’s not difficult to provide your tree the best bald cypress care if you select an excellent planting location, starting with a spot in full sun.

When you are planting a bald cypress tree, ensure that the soil has good drainage but also retains some moisture. Ideally, the soil should be acidic, moist and sandy. Irrigate regularly. Do yourself a favor and don’t plant these trees in alkaline soil. Although bald cypress information may tell you that the tree has no serious insect or disease issues, it is likely to get chlorosis in alkaline soils.

You’ll make Mother Nature happy if you start bald cypress growing. These trees are important to wildlife and help hold soil in place. They prevent erosion of river banks by soaking up excess water. Their thirsty roots also prevent pollutants in the water from spreading. The trees are breeding grounds for a variety of reptiles and nesting grounds for wood ducks and raptors.


Taxodum distichum in Spartanburg, SC.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a native, deciduous conifer and is only one of five conifer species that sheds its needles in the fall (hence, its “bald” namesake). Typically found growing in saturated soils, seasonally flooded areas, swamps and stream banks, the natural range of bald-cypress extends from the Atlantic Coastal Plain in southern Delaware south to Florida, and then west along the lower Gulf Coast Plain to Texas. It naturally grows further inland through the Mississippi Valley to the southernmost reaches of Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana.

Surprisingly, this native conifer exhibits urban toughness: tolerance to air pollution, poorly drained, compacted, and dry soils. This versatility and durability has led to its successful cultivation in landscapes, parking lots, and streetscapes.

Mature Height/Spread

In the wild, bald-cypress can become a large tree attaining a height of 100 to 150 feet and a few hundred years of age. The largest known individual in SC is in Congaree National Park in Richland County where the “SC Champion” is 127 feet tall, 50 feet wide, and a circumference of 26 feet (July 2002 measurements). Other towering stands of bald-cypress can be found in the Francis Beidler Forest in Harleyville, SC.

Taxodium distichum in the fall in Easley, SC.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Most landscape specimens tend to grow 50 to 70 by 20 to 30 feet high and wide. Young trees develop a narrow to broadly pyramidal crown; with age the crown becomes broad and flat-topped.

Growth Rate

Bald-cypress (USDA cold hardiness zones 4a-11) grows moderately fast, generally 1 to 2 feet per year. Although it’s naturally found in floodplains, river channels, and millponds, expect better growth in moist, well-drained soils in full sun.

Ornamental Features

Bald-cypress’s two-ranked needles (arranged in two rows on either side of a narrow stem) leaf out chartreuse in the spring and mature to light green in early summer. In the fall, the branchlets of stems and leaves change to tan and then turn orange to reddish-brown before they are shed.

The gray-brown to red-brown bark exfoliates–peels away–in long, vertical strips. As a bald-cypress ages, its trunk becomes fluted and unusually thick or buttressed at its base. Its round, green cones (¾ to 1inches across) are green in summer and then turn brown as they mature in fall and winter. Bald-cypress cones are reminiscent of the cones of the giant coastal redwoods of California (Sequoia sempervirens), which are members of the redwood family (Taxodiaceae).

Closeup of leaves and cones of Taxodium distichum.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Landscape Use

Bald-cypress and its cultivars make a fine stand-alone specimen or accent planting. They can be clustered together to create a grove or copse, planted near water features or along shorelines, planted as deciduous hedges or screens between properties, or in border plantings along driveways. Expect light, dappled shade from its delicate, feathery foliage.

A screen of Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’ at Moore Farms and Botanical Garden in Lake City, SC.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Bald-cypress has been successfully used as a street tree and in parking lot plantings in many municipalities, including Mt. Pleasant, Sumter, Columbia, and Easley, SC.

Bald-cypress is relatively maintenance-free and requires pruning only to remove dead wood and unwanted lower branches which persist on the tree.


Mites can be particularly troublesome in dry summers without irrigation; their feeding causes early leaf browning and needle-drop during mid- to late summer.

Cercospora needle blight, bagworms, and fall webworms are also potential problems on bald-cypress.

Healthy, well-maintained plants in the proper growing conditions usually have few problems.

“Cypress knees” of Taxodium distichum.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

In wet areas, bald-cypresses produce “cypress knees,” technically called pneumataphores. These peculiar 1- to 3-foot tall, pointed, cone-like root extensions look like bark-covered stalagmites. While their function remains a mystery, scientists believe that these “knees” provide structural support for growing in wet, swampy soils. Some have reported the occurrence of knees appearing in heavily irrigated lawns or low, waterlogged areas. While these knees may pose a mowing hazard, treat them as ornamental features by including them in mulched, defined beds.

Bald-cypress Cultivars

‘Cascade Falls’: This weeping bald-cypress has a serpentine growth habit that requires staking early in its development until it develops a central leader and upright-growing branches that no longer require support.

Taxodum distichum ‘Cascade Falls’on Furman University campus in Greenville, SC.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

This cultivar is also available as a standard where the scion or “head” of ‘Cascade Falls’ is grafted at least five feet high up on T. distichum understock. When the trunk is thick enough to support the head, all of the side branches are removed. Either form allows its branches to arch downwards. Fall color is peachy-orange-brown.

‘Falling Waters’: This weeping bald-cypress will only grow as high as it’s staked. It can be espaliered against walls or draped over walls to allow its branches to cascade; 20 feet high and wide at maturity. Needles turn bronze in the fall.

Green Whisper® (‘JFS-SGPN’): Discovered in South Carolina, this vigorous cultivar has an upright to pyramidal form and grows 55 feet high and 30 feet wide in 20 years. Its feathery-looking bright green leaves turn rusty orange in the fall.

Closeup of Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’ at Moore Farms and Botanical Garden in Lake City, SC.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Shawnee Brave™ (‘Mickelson’): Strong narrow pyramidal to columnar form with a dense crown; 50 to 75 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide. The parent is 75 feet high and 18 feet wide. Needles turn orangish-brown in the fall. Introduced by Earl Cully of Heritage® Trees, Inc. Jacksonville, IL.

‘Pendens’: Weeping pyramidal form has nearly horizontal branches with drooping or nodding tips.

‘Peve Minaret’: Although a dwarf cultivar with closely spaced dark green needles, it can grow to a height and width of 20 feet and 8 to10 feet, respectively. This cultivar tolerates selective pruning that allows it to be “sculpted” into a variety of shapes and purposes. Excellent use in the Moore Farms Botanic Garden in Lake City, SC.

Lindsey’s Skyward™ (‘Skyward’): Dwarf, compact selection with a columnar habit that’s well-suited for small landscapes. Matures to a height of 25 to 30 feet and a spread of 5 to 10 feet. Green needles turn golden copper than bronze before being shed.

Autumn Gold™ (‘Sofine’): Has a compact pyramidal habit and sage-green needles that turn rust-orange in the fall. Expected height and spread is 50 to 60 feet and 20 to 25 feet, respectively.

Related Species & Cultivars

Taxodium ascendens at the SC Botanical Garden.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

Pond Cypress: Pond-cypress or pond bald-cypress (Taxodium ascendens) is also native to the U.S. (USDA cold hardiness zones (4) 5-11), although it’s found in the southern portion of the range of bald-cypress from the southeastern Coastal Plain of NC to LA and southeast Texas. More tolerant of standing water, pond-cypress can often be found in blackwater rivers, ponds, bayous, and swamps.

Pond-cypress has a smaller stature and is more slower-growing than bald-cypress, with a narrow more columnar habit and less dense crown. Along the length of its spreading branches are upright threadlike branchlets whose individual needles are awl-shaped or scalelike; they turn bronze to brown in the fall to reveal light brown, ridged branches that offer textural interest in winter. Expect pond-cypress to grow 60 to 70 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide.

Some horticulturists view pond-cypress as more architecturally interesting than bald-cypress. Pond-cypress is found naturally in wet, boggy areas with standing or slow-moving water. It rarely produces knees in wet sites, which tend to be round-tipped instead of pointed as in bald-cypress.

Site this species and its cultivars on the edges of streams, lakes, or ponds; however, it will also prosper on higher, drier sites. Similar to bald-cypress, pond-cypress is relatively care-free. It tends to produce a relatively straight trunk without pruning. Occasionally it will be necessary to remove dead branches.

Debonair™ (‘Morris’): Columnar pond-cypress with narrowly pyramidal, slightly weeping form and whose long green needles droop down from reddish-brown stems. Needles turn russet-red in fall. Expect a mature height of 50 and a spread of 12 feet.

Closeup of Taxodium ascendens upright leafy branchlets.
Photo by Bob Polomski ©2014, Clemson University

‘Nutans’: First described in 1926, it’s considered one of the best forms with short, very horizontal branches and dense, airy needles. In autumn needles change from russet to golden brown. Mature height and spread is 50 feet and 16 feet, respectively.

‘Prairie Sentinel’: Narrower than the species, this cultivar should be used to create a vertical accent in the landscape. It’s considered the “gold standard” of columnar (fastigiated) forms of pond-cypress.

Fox Red™ (‘Red Fox’): Narrow, conical selection introduced by Bartlett Tree Experts in Charlotte, NC with an expect height and spread of 60 feet and 15 feet. Its bright green needles turn bronzy-red in some years.

Montezuma-cypress: Montezuma-cypress or Mexican swamp cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) was first described in 1853. This native to Guatemala, Mexico, and the southern tip of Texas is an evergreen to semi-evergreen in its native habitat. It is best suited for USDA zones 8b and warmer. Tripp and Raulston wrote that Montezuma cypress held its sandy gold fall color late into December in Raleigh, NC.

Montezuma-cypress tends to be more compact and have shorter leaves and smaller cones than bald- or pond-cypress. Although it does not grow as tall and bald-cypress, it compensates for its lack of height with girth. (See the famous Cypress-of-Tule or “El Gigante” Montezuma-cypress).

Canton water pine: Canton water pine or Chinese swamp cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis) is native to the subtropical regions of southeastern China, portions of Vietnam and eastern Laos. Considered a bald-cypress lookalike, Canton water pine is a deciduous conifer that prefers wet to moist areas near streams and river banks. Experts suggest a mature height of 30 feet in the Southeast.

For best growth and appearance, it must be planted in permanently wet conditions or shallow water in full sun. It is intolerant of dry soils, unlike Taxodium spp. It perhaps is best suited as a collector’s plant, because it lacks qualities that garner mainstream interest.

‘Woolly Mammoth: ‘Woolly Mammoth’ is a cultivar of Canton water pine introduced by Rob Means of Yadkin Valley Nursery in Yadkinville, NC; it has a better form than the species and slightly bluer new growth.

Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) photo: John Hagstrom

Tree & Plant Care

Best grown in full sun in wet, dry, and swampy locations.
Acid soils are best. May show chlorosis symptoms (yellowing) in high pH (alkaline) soil.

Disease, pests, and problems

The bald cypress is susceptible to twig blight, spider mite, gall forming mite, and cypress moths.

Native geographic location and habitat

Southern US, especially wetlands and coastal areas.

Bark color and texture

Attractive, fibrous, reddish-brown bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Soft, feathery needles turn russet-red in autumn before falling. This is one of the few conifers (cone-bearing trees) that loses its needles in winter and grows a new set in spring.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers in separate structures on the same tree; inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small round cones stay on branches into the winter.

Cultivars and their differences

Cascade Falls bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’) is a weeping form, 8 to 20 feet high.

Green Whisper® bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘JFS-SGPN’) has very bright green foliage. The tree has a very soft , feathery look.

Peve Minaret bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’) is a dwarf cultivar growing 8 to 10 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.

Shawnee Brave® bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Mickelson’) is narrowly pyramidal, 50 feet high and 20 feet wide, good for small urban spaces.

(Taxodium distichum)
(a.k.a. Southern Cypress, White Cypress, Swamp Cypress)

You are here: Nurserymen > Evergreen Seedlings > Bald Cypress Seedlings

Bald Cypress seedlings, approx 12-18″ tall Bald Cypress seedlings are a beautiful species of ornamental deciduous conifer, dropping needles every fall/winter in a gorgeous coppery bronze show. This species grows fairly quickly and lives for a very long time for a conifer, reaching heights of to 70 to 100ft tall.

For sale, shipping in SPRING 2020

Bald Cypress flourishes in a wide range of zones once established, and a wide range of wet soil types. Therefore this species of conifer is great for planting around ponds and water features, or anywhere the mud wants to suck your boots off.

Bald Cypress seedlings, approx 12-18″ tall A highly water tolerant species, Bald Cypress can minimize the effects of flooding by holding the soil in place when submerged. If grown in a frequently submerged location, the side roots often develop as knees to provide additional support for the tree. This feature provides the added benefit of even better erosion control.

Although known as a southern species, Bald Cypress seedlings can do well in northern locations once properly established. Younger seedlings are susceptible to unseasonal cold snaps, but more mature and established specimens become quite tolerant of wintery conditions. Often the tree appears dead due to frost/freeze damage or drought, but bounces back if given a chance.

Bald Cypress seedlings often attract waterfowl and amphibians at maturity because of its preference for wet locations. Also, many animals are attracted to its nutritious seeds. Bald eagles and ospreys are often seen nesting in Bald Cypress treetops. In southern states one often finds Spanish moss hanging from the branches.

Bald Cypress seedlings: characteristics and options

• prefershardiness zones 5-10
• prefers full sun, does ok in partial shade
• mature height and spread: 100ft high, up to 30ft spread
• prefers darker, richer soils; muddy wet loamy soils; standing water; riverbanks; wetlands
• Wikipedia detailed info on Taxodium distichum
• Bald Cypress Sizes and Availability:
— Bald Cypress seedlings
— Bald Cypress plug transplants
• Comparable alternative species: Tamarack Larch, White Cedar. Confused about species? Check out our Evergreen Tree Buyers Guide

Baldcypress – Sold Out

Price listed is for 10 seedlings.

BALDCYPRESS (Taxodium distichum) –
Baldcypress occurs naturally in the swamps and other wet, poorly drained lowlands of the coastal plain and lower piedmont from Virginia to Texas. For commercial forest production planting of this species should be confined to sites and soils where the species normally occurs. However, for environmental plantings, baldcypress grows acceptably on many soils in all areas of the state except in the high mountains. Planting should be avoided on dry, sandy soils and on shallow soils underlain by rock or tight clay. For good survival and growth, seedlings should be planted where they receive full sunlight. Overtopping plant competition must be controlled for a few years after planting. Baldcypress is noted for its long life with trees in old-growth forests commonly reaching ages of 400-600 years. Old trees can be huge specimens attaining heights of 90-120 feet and diameters of 3-6 feet or greater. The tree has a straight trunk with numerous ascending branches and narrow conical outline, making it a tree of considerable beauty. Frequently the root system produces irregular conical structures at the base called “knees” which rise several inches to several feet above the ground. Another distinctive feature is that the needles turn brown in the fall.Lumber cut from virgin baldcypress timber was highly resistant to decay, which led to its earlier use for crossties, posts, boat and shipbuilding, shingles, and exterior trim of buildings. Today, the second growth wood is used primarily for exterior siding and interior paneling. Because of its natural beauty adaptability to grow on a variety of sites, and its wind firmness, baldcypress makes a good shade tree. The seed of baldcypress are eaten by songbirds, waterfowl and squirrels. Older trees provide excellent nesting and roosting sites for coastal birds.

Bald Cypress (Taxodium

Other Names Gulf Cypress, Red Cypress, Southern Cypress, Swamp Cypress, White Cypress, Yellow Cypress Description Bald cypress trees can grow to a height of up to 120 feet (15.2 to 36.6m). Their needle-like leaves grow individually from the twig. Leaves are soft and feathery in appearance, dull light green above and whitish underneath. Cone-shaped “knees” project from submerged roots. The bald cypress is a deciduous (loses its leaves in fall) conifer (cone bearing tree). It is covered with brown or gray bark with long fiber-like or scaly ridges that peel off in strips. Cones are made up of several four-angled, flattened scales. Limbs are often draped with Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides). Life History Bald cypress trees add grace and beauty to many of Texas’ most cherished waterways. A member of the Redwood family, they are among the first trees in Texas to loose their leaves in the fall (hence the name “bald cypress”) and the last to bud in the spring. Flower buds appear in late December or early January and bloom in March and April. Pollen is shed, or released, when the flowers bloom. Seeds are produced inside the female cone. The cones ripen from October to December, changing from green to brownish purple, before dropping from the parent tree. Cones can contain anywhere from two to 34 seeds, but generally average 16. Sprouts can form from the cut trunk of bald cypress trees as old as 60 years. Most live up to 600 years, but some individuals have survived 1,200 years.
Bald cypress trees provide habitat for many species. Wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak and squirrels eat the seeds. Branches provide nesting places for bald eagles and osprey. Rotting knees are used as nesting cavities by warblers. Catfish spawn beneath cypress logs. Bald cypress diffuse and slow floodwaters, reducing flood damage. They also trap sediments and pollutants. Habitat Bald cypress are most abundant in wet, swampy soils of floodplain lakes and along riparian (streamside) corridors. Distribution Bald cypress can be found throughout the eastern states and west as far as central Texas. Other The bald cypress is known by other names in parts of its range – Gulf cypress, red cypress, southern cypress, swamp cypress, white cypress and yellow cypress. Taxodium is Greek for “yewlike,” which refers to a family of generally small trees prized for hard wood. The species name, distichum, means “two-ranked” and refers to the two rows in which the leaves grow. Cypress is also called the “wood eternal” because the heartwood is resistant to decay. Bald cypress is used for heavy construction, including docks, warehouses, boats and bridges, and was heavily logged in much of Texas. The Choctaw Indians used the bark for string and rope. The Seminoles found bald cypress useful for making houses, canoes, and ceremonial objects.

More and more homeowners are appreciating the significant virtues of Bald Cypress trees (Taxodium distichum) sometimes referred to as “Swamp Cypress”. These stunning, shapely trees bear cones and have needles for leaves. However, they are deciduous, losing their foliage every fall after it turns a glowing orange.
Familiar to many as the tree that grows in swamps, forming “knees” of their roots, thought to enable them to breathe while in water, these trees are equally at home in parks, along streets and in large residential yards. They usually do not produce “knees” when planted on dry land. They tolerate dry periods just fine and are sturdy enough to withstand high winds.

Bald Cypress Basics
Species Size Basic Requirements
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) Height 75 to 100’ Zones 5 to 9(10); Full sun but tolerates some shade; any soil type; good for wet; not alkaline
Spread 20 to 35’

Bald Cypress grow at a moderate to fast rate of about 2 feet a year during their first 50 years. They are columnar in shape when young, acquiring a broader pyramidal shape as they mature. Their width increases to 20 to 35 feet, or about 1/6 to 1/3 of their height. Their straight single trunks are covered in handsome reddish brown to silvery bark that sheds in vertical peels. Bald Cypress trees typically live as long as 400 to 600 years.

Bald Cypress foliage is similar to hemlock. The fine-textured needles appear late in the spring. They are 1/2 to 1 inch long, flat with pointed tips. Soft and fernlike, they grow opposite each other around each delicate twig. They are a bright yellow green in spring, becoming a soft medium green over the summer. As fall arrives, the leaves turn an orange to rusty brown before falling. During severe drought Bald Cypresses will lose their leaves prematurely and look dead, but rarely are they permanently damaged.

Bald Cypress trees bear both male and female flowers on the same tree. In the spring before leaves emerge inconspicuous small drooping purplish cones appear at the ends of branches all over the tree. The long drooping clusters of male flowers that developed the previous autumn and shed pollen in April pollinate these female flowers. The female flowers then become 1 to 1 1/2 inch cones with thick scales. They contain seeds and resinous (oil) glands that can be messy when crushed. Through October to early December cones ripen, turn brown and eventually disintegrate, releasing winged seeds.

Bald Cypress Choices
`Shawnee Brave’ is a smaller, narrow form, suited for small yards and streetside. , `Prairie Sentinel’ feature narrower more conical crowns than others. `Monarch of Illinois’ spreads unusually wide and more rounded. `Pendens’ has drooping branches.

Cypress Trees by Charles Bohmfalk

There are several species of cypress trees that are found around Texas. The most common and well known is the bald cypress. It is known by several names: Gulf cypress, red cypress, southern cypress, swamp cypress, white cypress and yellow cypress. Bald cypress is a member of the Redwood family. They are native to swamps and rivers in east and central Texas. It can tolerate standing water or rather dry sites once established, but does best in wetter areas. They prefer acid to neutral soils. The bald cypress is a deciduous (loses its leaves in fall) conifer (cone bearing tree) that is widely planted in Texas as a shade tree. They are among the first trees in Texas to lose their leaves in the fall (hence the name “bald cypress”) and the last to bud in the spring. Bald cypress trees can grow to a height of up to 120 feet. Most live up to 600 years, but some individuals have survived as long as 1,200 years.

Bald cypress trees provide habitat for many animal species. Wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak and squirrels eat the seeds. Branches provide nesting places for bald eagles and osprey. Rotting knees are used as nesting cavities by warblers. Catfish spawn beneath cypress logs. Bald cypress diffuse and slow floodwaters, reducing flood damage. Cypress is also called the “wood eternal” because the heartwood is resistant to decay. Bald cypress is used for heavy construction, including docks, warehouses, boats and bridges, and was heavily logged in much of Texas. The Choctaw Indians used the bark for string and rope. The Seminoles found bald cypress useful for making houses, canoes, and ceremonial objects.

The Montezuma bald cypress is found from the Rio Grande River south to Guatemala; it is uncommon to rare in Texas. It is also known as: Mexican Cypress, Sabino, Ahuehuete, Cipres. The main difference between Montezuma bald cypress and bald cypress is that Montezuma bald cypress is evergreen and the male flowers are borne in long racemes, whereas common bald cypress is deciduous and the male flowers are in short clusters. Since far south Texas is the northernmost of its range, it has difficulty surviving winters north of San Antonio.

Arizona Cypress (also known as Arizona Rough Cypress, Cedro, Cedro Blanco, Rough Bark Arizona Cypress) is native to Texas only in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, but is widely cultivated as a specimen tree and for dense windbreaks in west Texas and the southern High Plains, and for erosion control in dry areas. It is a medium to large evergreen tree with small scale-like green, blue-gray to silver-blue leaves. It is compact, drought tolerant and fast-growing. It is adaptable to most areas of Texas.

The Italian Cypress is native to the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea in its eastern region. The Italian Cypress is cultivated throughout the United States in areas with similar hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters as the Mediterranean Basin. The Italian Cypress has erect branches forming a narrow columnar habit of growth and is less than a tenth as wide as the tree is tall. The Italian Cypress has an extremely unique form that provides a classic distinction for Mediterranean themed landscapes, tall screens and framing accents.

Leylands are a popular privacy tree. They grow very fast and thicken to create a solid wall. It’s feathery texture is soft to the touch. Leyland cypress trees stay green all year-round, giving complete privacy.

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