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Bald Cypress

Scientific Name

Taxodium distichum

Origin

Native to North America, in fact some references say that the Bald Cypress and its distant relative, the Redwood, are the only two trees completely native to North America.  Found mainly in the southeastern U. S. inhabiting lowland, wetlands areas, such as the Everglades.    

Habitat

Prefers wet soils and swampy areas, however is adapted to deal with drier areas. Swampy areas are often named after the dominant tree in the area, thus areas like the “Big Cypress Swamp” in Florida are named for this tree.

Growth Nature

Bald Cypress can grow to a height of 50 to 75 ft.  A mature tree can have a spread of 20 to 30 ft.  Can be found in a variety of soils, from sandy loams to clay soil.  Mature trees take on a pyramidal shape.  Are a fast growing, deciduous conifer, losing their leaves during the winter, thus the name “bald” cypress.    

Points of Interest

  • A very long lived species. The oldest known specimen is over 1600       years old.

  • Develops special structures in wet areas called “knees” which are parts of the roots that stick out of the water for gas exchange.

  • Popularly used for lumber and furniture making. Due to powerful anti-fungal properties of the wood, strength, heaviness and resistance to shrinkage, the wood is especially valuable for outside uses.

  • Resin from the cones was used as a healing balm for rashes and skin wounds.