All About the Bald Cypress Tree

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Bald Cypress

Bald cypress is a deciduous tree that grows along creeks, rivers, swamps and streams, and basically anywhere with slow moving water. It is a long lived tree, with a life span of up to six hundred years. It is quite a legendary tree, known for its distinctive moss-covered crown, buttressed trunk and its �knees�.


The Bald cypress is quite a large tree, capable of reaching heights of up to one hundred and fifty meters. The trunk is generally buttressed and fluted near the base, especially in wetter areas. The tree has a pyramid-shaped crown during its younger years and as the tree grows older, it becomes flat-topped. While it grows in water, the shallow roots tend to rise up above the soil to form cone-shaped pneumatophores, called its �knees�.

It has flat, needle-like leaves that are a light yellowish green. The fruits produced are round cones that can be up to one inch in diameter. They are green, leathery and wrinkled. When fully mature, the cone becomes woody and it finally disintegrates when the scales on it fit closely together.


The base of the trunk of this tree has a unique shape, and this has led to artists creating clocks, wall d�cor and other furniture by using the tree�s cross-sectioned roots. This tree is particularly popular in landscaping due to its ornamental beauty. The old-growth heartwood it supplies is in high demand by the timber industry because it is very strong and does not rot.

It is also resistant to water, and is called �wood eternal� and is very valuable because of this. If you go to swamps in New England or even New Jersey you can see prehistoric trees of this kind that has wood that can still be used. This wood, which will be mineralized to some degree, is mined from these swamps and then used for wood carvings, which is one of its specialty uses.

This tree is known for having a particularly high merchantable yield, and the swamps in which it grows happen to be some of the most productive ecosystems in the world.

However, lumber use has declined because it is a slow-growing tree, it is harvested from wetlands, and the population of mature trees is much smaller than in the past.


The Bald cypress is a very popular ornamental tree, grown for its light, feathery foliage and orange-brown fall colour. In cultivation it thrives on a wide range of soils including well-drained sites where it would not grow naturally due to the inability of the young seedlings to compete with other vegetation.

However, these trees do need a rather continental climate having hot summers for them to grow well. It can still grow healthily in areas that have cool summers and oceanic climates, but its growth will be much slower, and cones will not be produced.

The Bald cypress was named the official tree of the state of Louisiana back in 1963, in representation of the southern swamps. You can also find these trees in the coastal plains of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf and in the Mississippi River Valley.

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