Taxodium distichum

A planted and occasionally naturalized tree known for its valuable lumber

Taxodium distichum bald cypress

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneously

This species of conifer is normally more abundant in the southeastern part of the United States than in Pennsylvania and all of the ones here are cultivated. It is the state tree of Louisiana. The native range extends up the Ohio Valley as far as southern Indiana. This tree turns a rusty-red color in the fall and drops most of its leaves and twigs. New growth springs from buds on the branches in the spring. For this reason it is never used as a Christmas Tree.

The stringy bark is gray-brown to red-brown in color and has narrow vertical fissures. It can be a magnificent tall tree and is often found in swamps. They can be 80-120 feet tall, with a trunk diameter of 3 to 4 feet. If they are growing in deep water, strange root growths called “knees” come up to the surface.

There are separate male and female cones on the same tree. The seed cones are spherically shaped with thick scales and are about 1 inch or more in diameter.  Cranes and songbirds may eat the seeds. The needles are ¼ to 7/8 inches long and flattened. They lack the white stripe on the under surface that is typical of Hemlocks. The needles are arranged in two rows on the stem in a pattern resembling the leaflets on a fern.

The bald cypress is one of the most valuable lumber trees in the country. The wood is light, soft, straight-grained and durable and seldom will warp. The Monterey cypress of California is only a distant relative. It is a popular ornamental tree, but the leaf and twig fall in autumn can be messy.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Planted and sometimes naturalized.

Native from southern DE and MD south.

Wetland codes

Bark  reddish, peeling in long strips

Needles  linear, alternate on slender terminal twigs that are shed with the leaves

Cones  drooping at the ends of branches, with peltate scales.

S-rank:  No rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Taxodium distichum bald cypress

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneously

Taxodium distichum gallery
Plant Life-Form
deciduous tree
Common Names