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BaldcypressTaxodium distichum

  • Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum
  • Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum
  • Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum
  • Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum
  • Baldcypress - Taxodium distichum

The Baldcypress tree is the classic tree of southern swamps. There, in its native habitat, it displays a peculiar habit of raising conical "knees" from its roots. The function of these growths is something of a mystery, although some believe it is a way to help the roots get oxygen. This tree dwells in swamps because it out-competes most other trees on such sites.

To the surprise of some people, the baldcypress does quite well when planted in the right soil in yards or along streets and is a beautiful specimen tree. It has been grown successfully in cities as far north as Milwaukee and on dry Texas hills.


Hardiness Zones

The baldcypress can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 4–10. View Map

Tree Type

This is a shade tree, featuring a spreading canopy capable of blocking sunlight.

Mature Size

The baldcypress grows to a height of 50–70' and a spread of around 25' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The baldcypress grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, silty loam, well-drained and clay soils. It is adaptable to wet or dry conditions and can withstand flooding.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Is a deciduous conifer.
  • Features short needles arranged in pairs along slender branchlets. Their coloring ranges from yellow-green in spring to soft green in summer to reddish- or orangish-brown in autumn.
  • Yields cones that appear as little globes approximately 1" in length that contain triangular seeds and are attractive to wildlife.
  • Grows in a pyramidal shape.
  • Adapts well to wet and dry conditions.
  • Develops "cypress knees" only in wet conditions.

Wildlife Value

Baldcypress form characteristic groves in swampy areas that support complex and variable ecosystems and are used by many wildlife species.

History/Lore

Baldcypress trees are native from Maryland along the eastern coast to Texas and as far west as the Mississippi valley. The first scientific reference to the species was made in 1640. The origin of the common name, however, seems to have been lost to time. No one is sure why it is called “bald” (though many guesses have been made).

This tree has inspired much poetry and prose over the centuries due to its melancholy and mysterious appearance. Longfellow refers to its "towering and tenebrous boughs" that "waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals" in his 1847 poem, Evangeline. Naturalist John Muir in his book Thousand-Mile Walk refers to "the dark, mysterious cypress woods which cover everything" and states that "night is coming on and I am filled with indescribable loneliness."

It is the state tree of Louisiana.