Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Cypress Family (Cupressaceae). Bald cypress is a large, slow-growing but long-lived, deciduous conifer, which frequently reaches 100 to 120 feet in height and 3 to 6 feet in diameter. Its trunk is massive, tapered, and buttressed. The leaves are alternate, linear, and flat with blades generally spreading around the twig. The bark is thin and fibrous with an interwoven pattern of narrow flat ridges and narrow furrows. It is monoecious with its male and female flowers forming slender tassle-like structures near the edge of the branchlets. It develops a taproot as well as horizontal roots that lie just below the surface and extend 20 to 50 feet before bending down. It develops knees that grow above water providing additional support.

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Description

This native coniferous tree becomes 80-120' tall at maturity, forming a stout central trunk and an oblongoid crown. The central trunk is somewhat swollen at the base and buttressed; when a tree grows in a location that is flooded during several months of the year, it often develops 'knees' that help to stabilize it. These knees are an extension of the trunk that protrude from the water around its base. The major branches of the crown are more or less horizontal and widely spreading. Trunk bark is reddish or brownish gray and rather thin. With age, it has a tendency to peel off the trunk in narrow strips. The bark of smaller branches are reddish brown and more smooth. There are two kinds of twigs
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Alternative names

Southern-cypress, swamp-cypress, red-cypress, yellow-cypress, white-cypress, tidewater red-cypress, gulf-cypress

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Distribution

Bald cypress is widely distributed along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern Delaware to southern Florida, westward along the lower Gulf Coast Plain to southeastern Texas. Inland, it grows along streams of the southeastern states and north in the Mississippi valley to southeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwestern Indiana.

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Range and Habitat in Illinois

In Illinois, Bald Cypress is an uncommon tree that is restricted to southern Illinois, which lies at its northern range limit. Habitats include bottomland woodlands along major rivers, soggy wooded areas along lakes, and swamps. Sometimes Bald Cypress is the dominant tree in swamps, or it is codominant with Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica). During dry spells, stands of Bald Cypress are sometimes killed by wildfires, as the thin bark of these trees provides little protection. Sometimes Bald Cypress is grown as an ornamental landscape tree.
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Occurrence in North America

     AL  AR  DE  FL  GA  HI  IL  IN  KY  LA
     MD  MS  MO  NC  OK  SC  TN  TX  VA

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Baldcypress grows along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern
Delaware to southern Florida, westward along the lower Gulf Coast Plain
to southeastern Texas almost to the Mexican border.  Inland, it grows
along streams of the Southeastern States and north in the Mississippi
Valley to southeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri, southern
Illinois, and southwestern Indiana [11,18,36].  It is cultivated in
Hawaii [55].  Pondcypress is generally confined to areas from
southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and southeastern Louisiana
[11,18,36].
  • 55.  St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the        Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p.  [25354]
  • 11.  Collingwood, G. H. 1937. Knowing your trees. Washington, DC: The        American Forestry Association. 213 p.  [6316]
  • 18.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to        seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to        Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC:        Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p.  [12906]
  • 36.  Marsinko, Allan P. C.; Syme, John H.; Harris, Robert A. 1991. Cypress: a        species in transition. Forest Products Journal. 41(1): 61-64.  [14593]

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Adaptation

Bald cypress is generally restricted to very wet soils consisting of muck, clay, or fine sand where moisture is abundant and fairly permanent. It is usually found on flat or nearly flat topography at elevations less than 100 feet above sea level. Its thin bark offers little protection against fire and during years of drought when swamps are dry, fire kills great numbers of cypress.

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: monoecious

Cypress is a large-sized, native, deciduous, conifer, frequently 100 to
120 feet (30-37 m) in height.  It is slow growing and very long-lived.
Individual trees have been reported up to 1,200 years old in Georgia and
South Carolina [19,26].  In the forest, baldcypress typically has a
broad, irregular crown, often draped in curtains and streams of gray
Spanish moss.  The trunks of older trees are massive, tapering, and
particularly when growing in swamps, buttressed at the base [11].  The
deciduous leaves are linear and flat with blades mostly spreading,
fastened alternately around the twig.  Cypress is monoecious with its
male and female flowers forming slender tasslelike structures near the
edge of the branchlets [10,53].  The bark of cypress is usually quite
thin and fibrous with an interwoven pattern of narrow flat ridges and
narrow furrows.  Cypress develops a taproot as well as horizontal roots
that lie just below the surface and extend 20 to 50 feet (6-15 m) before
bending down [19,21].

Knees:  Cypress knees are a unique polymorphic structure of cypress
trees.  They start out as small swellings on the upper surface of a
horizontal root and then protrude above the mud and water providing
extra needed support.  They vary in height from 1 to 12 feet (0.3-3.7 m)
depending on the level of the water [21].
  • 10.  Brown, Clair A. 1984. Morphology and biology of cypress trees. In: Ewel,        Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress swamps. Gainesville, FL:        University of Florida Press: 16-24.  [14780]
  • 11.  Collingwood, G. H. 1937. Knowing your trees. Washington, DC: The        American Forestry Association. 213 p.  [6316]
  • 19.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern        United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p.        [12764]
  • 21.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Swamps. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J.,        eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida        Press: 281-322.  [17392]
  • 26.  Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern        Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of        Georgia Press. 734 p.  [10239]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Physical Description

Tree, Deciduous, Evergreen, Monoecious, Habit erect, Trees with knees, Tree with bark rough or scaly, Young shoots in flat sprays, Young shoots 3-dimensional, Buds not resinous, Leaves needle-like, Leaves alternate, Leaves pendant, Needle-like leaf margins entire (use magnification), Needle-like leaf margins finely serrulate (use magnification or slide your finger along the leaf), Leaf apex acute, Leaf apex obtuse, Leaves < 5 cm long, Leaves < 10 cm long, Leaves not blue-green, Scale leaves without raised glands, Needle-like leaves flat, Needle-like leaves not twisted, Needle-like leaves per fascicle mostly 1, Twigs glabrous, Twigs not viscid, Twigs without peg-like projections or large fascicles after needles fall, Berry-like cones orange, Woody seed cones < 5 cm long, Bracts of seed cone included, Seeds tan, Seeds brown, Seeds wingless.
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Stephen C. Meyers

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Description

Trees deciduous, to 50 m tall; pneumatophores present or absent around trunk; trunk swollen and buttressed at base, strongly tapered upward, to 2 m d.b.h.; bark brown, reddish brown, or gray, peeling off in long strips; crown conical, finally broadly conical, or relatively narrow and pyramidal; main branches spreading horizontally or ascending; lateral branchlets 2-ranked, axis green in 1st year, turning brown or brownish red in 1st winter. Leaves 2-ranked on annual branchlets or not, light green adaxially, yellowish green or grayish green abaxially, turning dark reddish brown in autumn, linear and flat or subulate, 4-15 × ca. 1 mm, midvein depressed adaxially, raised abaxially, stomatal lines 4-8, apex acute or sharply pointed. Pollen cones borne in terminal, crowded, short, dense racemes or panicles 5-12 cm, shortly pedunculate, ovoid. Seed cones brownish yellow or white powdery, not glaucous, globose, oblong-globose, or ovoid, (1.4-)2-4 × (1.3-)1.8-3 cm; cone scales shield-shaped, woody, ± conspicuously longitudinally grooved at apex. Seeds brown or reddish brown, irregularly triangular-pyramidal, 1.2-2.6 × 0.5-2.3 cm, sharply ridged. Pollination Mar-Apr, seed maturity (Jul-)Oct.
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Description

Trees seasonally cladoptosic; trunk enlarged basally and often conspicuously buttressed; crown monopodial and conic when young, often becoming irregularly flattopped or deliquescent (branched and so divided that the main axis cannot be determined) with age. Shoot system conspicuously dimorphic, long shoots indeterminate, bearing individually abscising, linear to lanceolate leaves, short shoots determinate, abscising in autumn with their leaves, variable, intergrading, at one extreme pendent to horizontally spreading, bearing decurrent, narrowly linear and laterally divergent leaves in 2 rows, at other extreme strictly ascending to occasionally pendent, bearing short-lanceolate to deltate and tightly appressed leaves. Pollen cones in pendent panicles to ca. 25 cm, 2--3 mm, conspicuous in winter prior to pollination. Seed cones 1.5--4 cm.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Cupressus disticha Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 2: 1003. 1753
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

In Illinois, Bald Cypress is an uncommon tree that is restricted to southern Illinois, which lies at its northern range limit. Habitats include bottomland woodlands along major rivers, soggy wooded areas along lakes, and swamps. Sometimes Bald Cypress is the dominant tree in swamps, or it is codominant with Water Tupelo (Nyssa aquatica). During dry spells, stands of Bald Cypress are sometimes killed by wildfires, as the thin bark of these trees provides little protection. Sometimes Bald Cypress is grown as an ornamental landscape tree.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Taxodium distichum is a winter deciduous tall tree dominant in lowland river flood plains and swamps, mostly below 30 m but up to 530 m a.s.l., where it can form extensive forests of nearly pure stands on (seasonally) inundated fluvial sediment. The two varieties are largely sympatric, but var. imbricarium seems to avoid riparian habitat and to prefer stagnant pools and swamps. In permanently wet habitat with anaerobic soil conditions this species develops characteristic 'knees', which grow upwards from shallow roots, often at a considerable distance from the stem. The most commonly associated trees are Nyssa aquatica and N. sylvatica var. biflora, which form with Taxodium distichum a distinct vegetation type. Other common associated angiosperm trees are Acer rubrum in the northern part of the range of T. distichum, and Magnolia grandiflora in the southern States; Pinus spp., Fraxinus spp., Quercus spp., Liquidambar styraciflua, and shrubs e.g. Ilex spp., and Viburnum spp., are also often present. Especially in the southern States all trees are festooned with a trailing bromelioid epiphyte: Tillandsia usneoides. Flooding is frequent or sometimes nearly permanent with water levels up to 3 m deep; in riparian habitat silt is deposited annually. Away from rivers, clay, muck, or peat are common and in soils with a high organic content trees grow slower and stay smaller. Salinity above ca. 1% will cause trees to die, so the species avoids areas flooded by seawater. The climate varies greatly along the extensive range, with dry and cold winters in the interior along the middle section of the Mississippi River and a subtropical, warm and humid climate in S Florida.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: natural, tree

Cypress is usually restricted to very wet soils consisting of muck,
clay, or fine sand where moisture is abundant and fairly permanent
[1,3,38].  More than 90 percent of the natural cypress stands are found
on flat or nearly flat topography at elevations less than 100 feet (30
m) above sea level.  The upper limits of its growth in the Mississippi
Valley is at an elevation of about 500 feet (152 m) [6,13,28].

Common tree associates of bald and pondcypress are: American elm (Ulmus
americana), water hickory (Carya aquatica), red maple (Acer rubrum),
green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), sugarberry (Celtis laevigata),
sweetgum (Liquidambar sylvatica), loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasianthus),
and sweetbay (Magnolia virginia) [39,42,53].
  • 1.  Abernethy, Y.; Turner, R. E. 1987. US forested wetlands: 1940-1980:        Field-data surveys document changes and can guide national resource        management. BioScience. 37(10): 721-727.  [10575]
  • 3.  Allen, James A.; Kennedy, Harvey E., Jr. 1989. Bottomland hardwood        reforestation in the lower Mississippi Valley. Slidell, LA: U.S.        Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands        Research Center; Stoneville, MS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Southern Forest Experimental Station. 28 p.  [15293]
  • 6.  Beaven, George Francis; Oosting, Henry J. 1939. Pocomoke Swamp: a study        of a cypress swamp on the eastern shore of Maryland. Bulletin of the        Torrey Botanical Club. 66: 376-389.  [14507]
  • 13.  Coultas, Charles L.; Duever, Michael J. 1984. Soils of cypress swamps.        In: Ewel, Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress swamps.        Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press: 51-59.  [14844]
  • 28.  Gresham, Charles A. 1989. A literature review of effects of developing        pocosins. In: Hook, Donal D.; Lea, Russ, eds. Proceedings of the        symposium: The forested wetlands of the Southern United States; 1988        July 12-14; Orlando, FL. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-50. Asheville, NC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest        Experiment Station: 44-50.  [9228]
  • 38.  Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral        Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354.  [9263]
  • 39.  Monk, Carl D.; Brown, Timothy W. 1965. Ecological consideration of        cypress heads in north-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 74:        126-140.  [10848]
  • 42.  Pessin, L. J. 1933. Forest associations in the uplands of the lower Gulf        Coastal Plain (longleaf pine belt). Ecology. 14(1): 1-14.  [12389]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: hardwood, swamp

Baldcypress has been included as an indicator or dominant in the
following vegetation types:

The phytosociology of the Green Swamp, North Carolina [32]
Southern mixed hardwood forest of north-central Florida [38]
Plant communities in the marshlands of southeastern Louisiana [41]
Plant communities of the Coastal Plain of North Carolina and their
   successional relations [52].
  • 32.  Kologiski, Russell L. 1977. The phytosociology of the Green Swamp, North        Carolina. Tech. Bull. No. 250. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Agricultural        Experiment Station. 101 p.  [18348]
  • 38.  Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral        Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354.  [9263]
  • 41.  Penfound, W. T.; Hathaway, Edward S. 1938. Plant communities in the        marshlands of southeastern Louisiana. Ecological Monographs. 8(1): 3-56.        [15089]
  • 52.  Wells, B. W. 1928. Plant communities of the Coastal Plain of North        Carolina and their successional relations. Ecology. 9(2): 230-242.        [9307]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: swamp

    74  Cabbage palmetto
    83  Longleaf pine - slash pine
    84  Slash pine
    85  Slash pine - hardwood
    92  Sweetgum - willow oak
    97  Atlantic white cedar
    98  Pond pine
   100  Pondcypress
   101  Baldcypress
   102  Baldcypress - tupelo
   103  Water tupelo - swamp tupelo
   104  Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
   106  Mangrove

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES12  Longleaf - slash pine
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES16  Oak - gum - cypress

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K089  Black Belt
   K090  Live oak- sea oats
   K091  Cypress savanna
   K092  Everglades
   K105  Mangrove
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest
   K112  Southern mixed forest
   K113  Southern floodplain forest
   K114  Pocosin
   K115  Sand pine scrub
   K116  Subtropical pine forest

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Depth range based on 4 specimens in 1 taxon.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 1.5 - 1.5
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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Habitat & Distribution

Used for afforestation on marshy soils, and cultivated as an ornamental. Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang [native to SE United States]
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Dispersal

Establishment

Either seeds or sprouts can accomplish bald cypress stands. Seeds are produced annually and good seed production occurs about every three years. Seeds are dispersed more frequently by floodwaters. Under swamp conditions, the best seed germination generally takes place on a sphagnum moss or a wet-muck seedbed. On better-drained soils, seed usually fails to germinate due to lack of surface water. Soil saturated for 1 to 3 months after seedfall is required for germination. Seedlings require light for good growth, thus control of competing vegetation is necessary.

Bald cypress will produce vigorous sprouts from the stumps of both young and old trees, following disturbance.

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Associations

Faunal Associations

Bald Cypress appears to have fewer insect pests than most trees. Insect feeders that are known include the moth caterpillars Chloropteryx tepperaria (Angle-Winged Emerald), Isoparce cupressi (Bald Cypress Sphinx), Malacosoma disstria (Forest Tent Caterpillar), and Nemoria elfa (Cypress Emerald). The larvae of the Buprestid beetle, Acmaeodera pulchella (Flat-Headed Bald Cypress Borer), bore through the wood, as do the larvae of the Cerambycid beetles Atimia confusus confusus, Leptura abdominalis, Oeme rigidus rigidus. Several oligophagous (or monophagous) plant bugs also feed on Bald Cypress; these species include Ceratocapsus taxodii, Orthotylus taxodii, Parthenicus taxodii, Phytocoris exemplus, Phytocoris taxodii, and Pilophorus taxodii. The seeds are eaten to a limited extent by such birds as the Wood Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, and Wild Turkey; they are also eaten to a limited extent by tree squirrels. Bald Cypress provides good nesting habitat for several species of birds; this includes the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Yellow-Throated Warbler, and various herons and egrets. In swampy areas of southern Illinois, Barred Owls often roost in this tree.
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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

Fire is not recommended as a management tool for maintaining cypress
stands.  Severe fires after logging or drainage may destroy seeds and
roots in the soil, favoring replacement of cypress by willows (Salix
spp.) and subsequent hardwoods [21,49].
  • 21.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Swamps. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J.,        eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida        Press: 281-322.  [17392]
  • 49.  Wade, Dale; Ewel, John; Hofstetter, Ronald. 1980. Fire in south Florida        ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-17. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 125        p.  [10363]

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Plant Response to Fire

Cypress will often sprout from the stump when top-killed by fire [49].
  • 49.  Wade, Dale; Ewel, John; Hofstetter, Ronald. 1980. Fire in south Florida        ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-17. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 125        p.  [10363]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: peat, swamp

Under drought conditions, peat fires that burn below the surface of the
organic soil may kill the roots of cypress trees, thus killing the
plant.  A peat fire in the Okefenokee swamp in Florida killed 97 percent
of the cypress trees in a 3,000-acre plot (1,214 ha) [14,45].
  • 14.  Cypert, Eugene. 1961. The effects of fires in the Okefenokee Swamp in        1954 and 1955. American Midland Naturalist. 66(2): 485-503.  [11018]
  • 45.  Taylor, Dale L. 1980. Fire history and man-induced fire problems in        subtropical south Florida. In: Stokes, Marvin A.; Dieterich, John H.,        technical coordinators. Proceedings of the fire history workshop; 1980        October 20-24; Tucson, AZ. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-81. Fort Collins, CO: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and        Range Experiment Station: 63-68.  [16044]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: secondary colonizer, tree

   Tree with adventitious-bud root crown/soboliferous species root sucker
   Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

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Fire Ecology

Ecology:  Because of its edaphic and physiographic requirements (See
Site Characteristics), cypress is usually protected from fire [2,30].

Adaptation:  The thin bark of cypress trees offers little protection
against fire and, during years of drought when swamps are dry, fire
kills great quantities of cypress [11,50].
  • 2.  Abramson, Julie. 1977. Swamps burn too. Conservation News. 42(20): 8-10.        [11475]
  • 11.  Collingwood, G. H. 1937. Knowing your trees. Washington, DC: The        American Forestry Association. 213 p.  [6316]
  • 30.  Hare, Robert C. 1965. Contribution of bark to fire resistance of        southern trees. Journal of Forestry. 63(4): 248-251.  [9915]
  • 50.  Wade, Dale D.; Johansen, R. W. 1986. Effects of fire on southern pine:        observations and recommendations. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-41. Asheville, NC:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest        Experiment Station. 14 p.  [10984]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, succession

Cypress swamps represent an edaphic climax; they are held almost
indefinitely in a subfinal stage of succession by physiographic
conditions [17,38,42].  Cypress is intermediate in shade tolerance.
Best growth occurs under a high degree of overhead light, but the tree
persists under partial shade [17,20,51,53].
  • 17.  Duever, Michael J.; Riopelle, Lawrence A. 1983. Successional sequences        and rates on tree islands in the Okefenokee Swamp. American Midland        Naturalist. 110(1): 186-191.  [14590]
  • 20.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Multiple demands on wetlands. Bioscience.        40(9): 660-666.  [14596]
  • 38.  Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral        Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354.  [9263]
  • 42.  Pessin, L. J. 1933. Forest associations in the uplands of the lower Gulf        Coastal Plain (longleaf pine belt). Ecology. 14(1): 1-14.  [12389]
  • 51.  Walker, Laurence C. 1990. Forests: A naturalist's guide to trees and        forest ecology. Wiley Nature Editions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.        288 p.  [13763]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: swamp

Seed production and dispersal:  Baldcypress produces seed every year,
and good seed production occurs at intervals of about 3 years
[15,20,53].  Because of the large size of the seeds and the relatively
small wing size, cypress seeds are not dispersed to any distance by the
wind.  Flood waters disperse the seed along rivers and streams
[12,37,40].

Seedling development:  The exact requirements for moisture immediately
after seed dispersal seems to be the key to the survival and
distribution of cypress.  Under swamp conditions, the best seed
germination generally takes place on a sphagnum moss or a wet-muck
seedbed.  An abundant supply of moisture for a period of 1 to 3 months
after seedfall is required for germination.  Seed covered with water for
as long as 30 months may germinate when the water recedes.  On better
drained soils, seed usually fails to germinate successfully because of
the lack of surface water [10,16,53].

Vegetative reproduction:  After disturbance, cypress will sprout from
the stumps of young trees.  Trees up to 60 years of age send up healthy
sprouts.  Trees up to 200 years of age may also sprout but not very
vigorously [10,24].
  • 10.  Brown, Clair A. 1984. Morphology and biology of cypress trees. In: Ewel,        Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress swamps. Gainesville, FL:        University of Florida Press: 16-24.  [14780]
  • 12.  Conner, William H.; Toliver, John R. 1990. Observations on the        regeneration of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum [L.]
  • 15.  Dean, George W. 1969. Forests and forestry in the Dismal Swamp. Virginia        Journal of Science. 20: 166-173.  [17249]
  • 16.  Deghi, Gary S. 1984. Seedling survival and growth rates in experimental        cypress domes. In: Ewel, Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress        swamps. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press: 141-144.  [14846]
  • 20.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Multiple demands on wetlands. Bioscience.        40(9): 660-666.  [14596]
  • 24.  Franklin, Jerry F.; DeBell, Dean S. 1973. Effects of various harvesting        methods on forest regeneration. In: Hermann, Richard K.; Lavender, Denis        P., eds. Even-age management: Proceedings of a symposium; 1972 August 1;        [Location of conference unknown]
  • 37.  McCaughey, Ward W.; Weaver, T. 1991. Seedling submergence tolerance of        four western conifers. Tree Planters' Notes. 42(2): 45-48.  [17340]
  • 40.  Newling, Charles J. 1990. Restoration of bottomland hardwood forests in        the lower Mississippi Valley. Restoration & Management Notes. 8(1):        23-28.  [14611]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

  
   Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: tree

Tree

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

The flower buds of cypress trees appear in late December or early
January.  The flowers appear in March and April; fruit ripens from
October through December [7,29].
  • 7.  Bonner, F. T. 1974. Liquidambar styraciflua L.  sweetgum. In:        Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States.        Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service: 505-507.  [7695]
  • 29.  Gunderson, Lance H. 1984. Regeneration of cypress in logged and burned        strands at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Florida. In: Ewel, Katherine        Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress swamps. Gainesville, FL:        University of Florida Press: 349-357.  [14857]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Taxodium distichum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Taxodium distichum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Farjon, A.

Reviewer/s
Stritch, L. & Thomas, P.

Contributor/s

Justification
Taxodium distichum is still widespread and abundant and is therefore assessed as Least Concern. Both varieties are also assessed as Least Concern.
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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values.

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Population

Population
The global population trend is stable.

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no substantial threats to this species at this time.
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Pests and potential problems

Brown pocket rot known as “pecky cypress” which is caused by the fungus Stereum taxodi attacks the heartwood. The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosma disstria) and fruit-tree leafroller (Archips argyrospila) larvae web and feed on needles causing dieback and eventually death.

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is represented in several protected areas within its range.
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Management considerations

More info for the terms: competition, swamp, tree

Silviculture:  Canopy thinning has been reported as the best management
practice for regenerating cypress.  Thinning controls competition and
allows overhead light for newly germinated seedlings [20,53].

Animal damage:  The swamp rodent nutria often clips or uproots newly
planted cypress seedlings before the root systems are fully established,
thus killing the seedlings.  When nutria populations are high, entire
plantings are often destroyed in a few days [43].

Insects and disease:  The fungus Stereum taxodi causes brown pocket rot
known as "pecky cypress" that attacks the heartwood of older living
baldcypress trees.  The fungus most often gains entrance in the crown
and works its way down, destroying a considerable part of the heartwood
at the base of the tree [53].  The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosma
disstria) and fruit-tree leafroller (Archips argyrospila) larvae webb
and feed on cypress needles as soon as the buds break and small leaflets
expand, causing dieback and sometimes mortality [27,53].
  • 20.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Multiple demands on wetlands. Bioscience.        40(9): 660-666.  [14596]
  • 27.  Goyer, Richard A.; Linhard, Gerald J.; Smith, James D. 1990. Insect        herbivores of a bald-cypress/tupelo ecosystem. Forest Ecology and        Management. 33/34: 517-521.  [11936]
  • 43.  Platt, Steven G.; Brantley, Christopher G. 1990. Baldcypress swamp        restoration depends on control of nutria, vine mats, salinization.        Restoration and Management Notes. 8(1): 46.  [15039]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

Readily available from nurseries within its range. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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The best management practice for regenerating this species is canopy thinning. Through thinning, competition is controlled and overhead light is provided for newly germinated seedlings. Nutria, a swamp rodent, often clips or uproots newly planted seedlings before the root systems are fully established, thus killing them. Control of nutria population is necessary. Severe fire after logging or drainage destroys seeds and roots in the soil, favoring willows and hardwoods to take over.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

This tree prefers full sunlight, wet to moist conditions, and a somewhat acidic soil containing muck, clay, or sand. Unlike most other trees, it can tolerate waterlogged conditions for several months per year. Growth and development are fairly slow, but individual trees can live 200 years or more. Some trees in the southeast are suspected of being 1000-1500 years old. The seeds need consistently moist conditions in order to germinate. It is possible to plant Bald Cypress in areas that are located north of its normal range; depending on the local ecotype, it is winter-hardy to Zone 4 or 5.
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Other uses and values

More info for the term: tree

Baldcypress has been planted as a water tolerant tree species used for
shading and canopy closure to help reduce populations of the Anopheles
mosquito [5].

Baldcypress has been successfully planted throughout its range as an
ornamental and along roadsides [11].
  • 5.  Bates, A. Leon; Pickard, Eugene; Dennis, Michael. 1979. Tree plantings -        a diversified management tool for reservoir shorelines. In: Johnson, R.        Roy; McCormick, J. Frank, technical coordinators. Strategies for        protection and management of floodplain wetlands & other riparian        ecosystems: Proc. of the symposium; 1978 December 11-13; Callaway        Gardens, GA. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-12. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service: 190-194.  [4360]
  • 11.  Collingwood, G. H. 1937. Knowing your trees. Washington, DC: The        American Forestry Association. 213 p.  [6316]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Baldcypress has been successfully planted on the margins of surface-
mined lakes in southern Illinois, southwestern Indiana, and western
Kentucky [9].

Cypress swamps help to maintain high regional water tables, and they can
also be used to provide advanced wastewater treatment for small
communities [21].  Research has shown that cypress domes can serve as
tertiary sewage treatment facilities for improving water quality and
recharging groundwater [25].

Methods of collecting, extracting, cleaning, storing, and sowing
baldcypress seeds to produce nursery-grown seedlings have been
described [48,53].
  • 9.  Brothers, Timothy S. 1988. Indiana surface-mine forests: historical        development and composition of a human-created vegetation complex.        Southeastern Geographer. 28(1): 19-33.  [8787]
  • 21.  Ewel, Katherine C. 1990. Swamps. In: Myers, Ronald L.; Ewel, John J.,        eds. Ecosystems of Florida. Orlando, FL: University of Central Florida        Press: 281-322.  [17392]
  • 25.  Fritz, Walter R.; Helle, Steven C.; Ordway, James W. 1984. The cost of        cypress wetland treatment. In: Ewel, Kathernine Carter; Odum, Howard T.,        eds. Cypress swamps. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press:        239-248.  [17648]
  • 48.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Cover Value

The tops of cypress trees provide nesting sites for bald eagles and
ospreys.  Warblers use the old decaying knees for nesting cavities, and
catfish spawn below cypress logs.  Cypress domes provide breeding sites
for a number of frogs, toads, and salamanders.  Cypress domes also
provide nesting sites for herons and egrets [22,30].
  • 22.  Ewel, Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. 1984. Cypress swamps.        Gainesville, FL: University of Florida. 472 p.  [14778]
  • 30.  Hare, Robert C. 1965. Contribution of bark to fire resistance of        southern trees. Journal of Forestry. 63(4): 248-251.  [9915]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Baldcypress seeds are eaten by wild turkey, wood ducks, evening
grosbeak, and squirrels.  The seed is a minor part of the diet of
waterfowl and wading birds.  Yellow-throated warblers forage in the
Spanish moss often found hanging on the branches of old cypress trees
[4,48,53].  Cypress domes provide watering places for a variety of
birds, mammals, and reptiles of the surrounding pinelands [31].
  • 4.  Anon. 1978. Wondrous woodie. Virginia Wildlife. 39(11): 12-13.  [17367]
  • 31.  Harris, Larry D.; Vickers, Charles R. 1984. Some faunal community        characteristics of cypress ponds and the changes induced by        perturbations. In: Ewel, Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress        swamps. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press: 171-185.  [14849]
  • 48.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]

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Wood Products Value

Baldcypress wood is highly resistant to decay, making it valuable for a
multitude of uses [8].  It is used in building construction, fence
posts, planking in boats, doors, blinds, flooring, shingles, caskets,
interior trim, and cabinetry [11,46,51].
  • 11.  Collingwood, G. H. 1937. Knowing your trees. Washington, DC: The        American Forestry Association. 213 p.  [6316]
  • 51.  Walker, Laurence C. 1990. Forests: A naturalist's guide to trees and        forest ecology. Wiley Nature Editions. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.        288 p.  [13763]
  • 8.  Bowers, Lynne Jordan; Melhuish, John H., Jr. 1988. Silcon content in        wood and bark of baldcypress compared to loblolly pine and southern red        oak. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Science. 49(1-2): 1-7.        [15037]
  • 46.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1956. Wood...colors and        kinds. Agric. Handb. 101. Washington, DC. 36 p.  [16294]

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Uses

Erosion Control: Riverine swamps of bald cypress reduce damage from floods and act as sediment and pollutant traps as they cause floodwaters to spread out, slow down, and infiltrate the soil.

Timber: Bald cypress wood is valuable for building construction, fence posts, planking in boats, river pilings, doors, blinds, flooring, shingles, garden boxes, caskets, interior trim and cabinetry.

Wildlife: Wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak, squirrels, waterfowl and wading birds eat Bald cypress seeds. Cypress domes provide unique watering places for a variety of birds and mammals and breeding sites for frogs, toads, salamanders and other reptiles. Yellow-throated warblers forage in the Spanish moss often found hanging on the branches. Its tops provide nesting sites for bald eagles, ospreys, herons and egrets.

Site Rehabilitation: It has potential for rehabilitating margins of surface-mined lakes. Cypress domes can serve as tertiary sewage treatment facilities for improving water quality and recharging groundwater.

Beautification: This species has been planted as a water tolerant tree species used for shading and canopy closure in mosquito control programs. It has been successfully planted throughout its range as an ornamental and along roadsides.

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Wikipedia

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum (bald cypress, baldcypress, bald-cypress, cypress, southern-cypress, white-cypress, tidewater red-cypress, Gulf-cypress, red-cypress, or swamp cypress) is a deciduous conifer that grows on saturated and seasonally inundated soils of the Southeastern and Gulf Coastal Plains of the United States.[2][3][4][5]

Characteristics[edit]

Foliage

It is a large tree, reaching 25–40 m (rarely 44 m) tall and a trunk diameter of 2–3 m, rarely to 5 m. The bark is gray-brown to red-brown, shallowly vertically fissured, with a stringy texture. The leaves are borne on deciduous branchlets that are spirally arranged on the stem, but twisted at the base to lie in two horizontal ranks, 1–2 cm long and 1–2 mm broad; unlike most other species in the family Cupressaceae, it is deciduous, losing its leaves in the winter months, hence the name 'bald'. It is monoecious. Male and female strobili mature in about 12 months; they are produced from buds formed in the late fall, with pollination in early winter. The seed cones are green maturing gray-brown, globular, and 2-3.5 cm in diameter. They have from 20 to 30 spirally arranged, four-sided scales, each bearing one or two (rarely three) triangular seeds. The number of seeds per cone ranges from 20 to 40. The cones disintegrate when mature to release the large seeds. The seeds are 5–10 mm long, the largest of any species in the cypress family, and are produced every year, but with heavy crops every three to five years. The seedlings have three to 9 (most often six) cotyledons.[2]

The main trunks are surrounded by cypress knees.

The tallest known individual specimen, near Williamsburg, Virginia, is 44.11 m tall, and the stoutest known, in the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge near Baton Rouge, Louisiana, has a diameter at breast height (DBH) of 521 cm.[4] The oldest known specimen, located in Bladen County, North Carolina, is over 1,620 years old, making this one of the oldest living plants in eastern North America .[6]

Taxonomy[edit]

Cones

The closely related Taxodium ascendens (pond cypress) is treated by some botanists as a distinct species,[7] while others classify it as merely a variety of bald-cypress,[2][4] as Taxodium distichum var. imbricatum (Nutt.) Croom. It differs in shorter leaves borne on erect shoots, and in ecology, being largely confined to low-nutrient blackwater habitats. A few authors also treat Taxodium mucronatum as a variety of bald cypress, as T. distichum var. mexicanum Gordon, thereby considering the genus as comprising only one species.[8]

Habitat[edit]

Range[edit]

Bald cypress range
Bald cypress on the Texas side of Caddo Lake

The native range extends from Delaware Bay south to Florida and west to East Texas and southeastern Oklahoma, and also inland up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers north to southern Illinois and Indiana. Mature planted specimens are seen as far north as Pittsburgh,[9] and Ottawa, Ontario. [10] In Ottawa, in the Central Experimental Farm Arboretum, an average winter may kill back a quarter to half of new growth. Ancient bald cypress forests, with some trees more than 1,700 years old, once dominated swamps in the southeast US. The largest remaining old-growth stands are at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, near Naples, Florida.[citation needed] and in the Three Sisters tract along eastern North Carolina's Black River. The Corkscrew trees are around 500 years of age and some exceed 40 m in height. The Black River trees were cored in 1986 by University of Arkansas dendrologists with dates ranging back to 364 AD.[11] In the northern and more inland part of its range from Delaware and Maryland to Williamsburg, Virginia, it is found in groups growing in swamps and is accompanied by other hardwoods. In the southern parts of its range from extreme southeastern Virginia, Virginia Beach south to Florida and west to Texas, bald cypress can be found growing with loblolly pine and live oak, and it may be heavily covered in Spanish moss. This can be observed in the far northern part of its range at First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach, Virginia. From eastern North Carolina down throughout Florida and over to southeast and south Texas, bald cypress may be accompanied in forests by dwarf palmetto.

It is native to humid climates where annual precipitation ranges from about 760 mm (in Texas) to 1630 mm (along the Gulf Coast). Although it grows best in warm climates, the natural northern limit of the species is not due to a lack of cold tolerance, but to specific reproductive requirements; further north, regeneration is prevented by ice damage to seedlings. Larger trees are able to tolerate much lower temperatures and lower humidity.

In 2012 Scuba divers discovered an underwater forest several miles off the coast of Mobile, AL below 60 feet of water. The forest contains trees that have been dated to approximately 52,000 years old. The forest contains trees so well-preserved that when they are cut, they still smell like fresh Cypress sap. The team, which has not yet published their results in a peer-reviewed journal, is currently applying for grants to explore the site more thoroughly. It is estimated that they have less than two years before wood-burrowing marine animals destroy the submerged forest.[12]

Soils and topography[edit]

Most bald-cypress trees grow on flat ground on alluvial soils, usually at elevations of less than 50 m above sea level, although some stands may occur at elevations of 500 m in Texas.

Bald cypress occurs mainly along riparian (riverside) wetlands normally subject to periodic flooding by silt-rich 'brownwater' rivers, unlike the related Taxodium ascendens, which occurs in silt-poor blackwater rivers and ponds. T. distichum tolerates minor salinity, but does not grow in brackish or saline coastal waters.

Reproduction and early growth[edit]

Bald cypress is monoecious. Male and female strobili mature in one growing season from buds formed the previous year. The male catkins are about 2 mm (0.08 in) in diameter and are borne in slender, purplish, drooping clusters 7 to 13 cm (3 to 5 in) long that are conspicuous during the winter on this deciduous conifer. Pollen is shed in March and April. Female conelets are found singly or in clusters of two or three. The globose cones turn from green to brownish-purple as they mature from October to December. The cones are 13 to 36 mm (0.5 to 1.41 in) in diameter and consist of 9 to 15 four-sided scales that break away irregularly after maturity. Each scale can bear two irregular, triangular seeds with thick, horny, warty coats and projecting flanges.[13][14][15][5][16] The number of seeds per cone averages 16 and ranges from two to 34. Cleaned seeds number from about 5600 to 18,430/kg (2,540 to 8,360/lb).[5][14][15][16]

Seed production and dissemination[edit]

Some seeds are produced every year, and good seed crops occur at three- to five-year intervals.[16] At maturity, the cone scales with their resin-coated seeds adhering to them, or sometimes entire cones, drop to the water or ground.[17] This drop of mature seeds is often hastened by squirrels, which eat bald cypress seeds, but usually drop several scales with undamaged seeds still attached to each cone they pick.[18] Floodwaters spread the scales or cones along streams and are the most important means of seed dissemination.[15]

Seedling development[edit]

Germination is epigeal.[16] Under swamp conditions, germination generally takes place on a sphagnum moss or a wet-muck seedbed. Seeds will not germinate under water, but some will remain viable for 30 months under water. On the other hand, seeds usually fail to germinate on better drained soils because of the lack of surface water. Thus, a soil saturated but not flooded for a period of one to three months after seedfall is required for germination.[15]

Bald Cypress swamp and Spanish Moss at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, VA

After germination, seedlings must grow fast enough to keep at least part of their crowns above floodwaters for most of the growing season.[19][20][21] Bald cypress seedlings can endure partial shading, but require overhead light for good growth.[22] Seedlings in swamps often reach heights of 20 to 75 cm (8 to 30 in) their first year.[23] Growth is checked when a seedling is completely submerged by flooding, and prolonged submergence kills the seedling.[15]

In nurseries, Taxodium seeds show an apparent internal dormancy that can be overcome by various treatments, usually including cold stratification or submerging in water for 60 days. Nursery beds are sown in spring with pretreated seeds or in fall with untreated seeds. Seedlings usually reach 75 to 100 cm (30 to 40 in) in height during their first (and usually only) year in the nursery. Average size of 1-0 nursery-grown seedlings in a seed source test including 72 families was 81.4 cm (32 in) tall and 1.1 cm (0.43 in) in diameter.

Control of competing vegetation may be necessary for a year or more for bald cypress planted outside of swamps. Five years after planting on a harrowed and bedded, poorly drained site in Florida, survival was high, but heights had increased only 30 cm (12 in), probably because of heavy herbaceous competition. Seedlings grown in a crawfish pond in Louisiana, where weed control and soil moisture were excellent through June, averaged 2.9 m (9.7 ft) and 3.5 cm (1.4 in) diameter at breast height (DBH) after five years. However, a replicate of the same sources planted on an old soybean field, where weed control and soil moisture were poor, resulted in the same DBH, but a smaller average seedling height of 2.1 m (7.0 ft). When planted in a residential yard and weeded and watered, they averaged 3.7 m (12 ft) tall three years later.

Vegetative reproduction[edit]

Bald cypress is one of the few conifer species that sprouts. Thrifty sprouts are generally produced from stumps of young trees, but trees up to 60 years old also send up healthy sprouts if the trees are cut during the fall or winter. However, survival of these sprouts is often poor and those that live are usually poorly shaped and do not make quality sawtimber trees. Stumps of trees up to 200 years old may also sprout, but the sprouts are not as vigorous and are more subject to wind damage as the stump decays. In the only report on the rooting of bald cypress cuttings found in the literature, cuttings from trees five years old rooted better than those from older trees.

Ecology[edit]

A bald cypress in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana
Bald cypress knees in duckweed

The seeds remain viable for less than one year, and are dispersed in two ways. One is by water; the seeds float and move on water until flooding recedes or the cone is deposited on shore. The second is by wildlife; squirrels eat seeds, but often drop some scales from the cones they harvest. Seeds do not germinate under water and rarely germinate on well-drained soils; seedlings normally become established on continuously saturated, but not flooded, soils for one to three months. After germination, seedlings must grow quickly to escape floodwaters; they often reach a height of 20–75 cm (up to 100 cm in fertilized nursery conditions) in their first year. Seedlings die if inundated for more than about two to four weeks. Natural regeneration is therefore prevented on sites that are always flooded during the growing season. Although vigorous saplings and stump sprouts can produce viable seed, most specimens do not produce seed until they are about 30 years old. In good conditions, Bald-cypress grows fairly fast when young, then more slowly with age. Trees have been measured to reach 3 m in five years, 21 m in 41 years, and 36 m in height in 96 years; height growth has largely ceased by the time the trees are 200 years old. Some individuals can live over 1,000 years. Determination of the age of an old tree may be difficult because of frequent missing or false rings of stemwood caused by variable and stressful growing environments.

Bald cypress forest in winter, showing "knees" and (brown) high flood level, Lynches River, Johnsonville, South Carolina

Bald cypress trees growing in swamps have a peculiarity of growth called cypress knees. These are woody projections from the root system project above the ground or water. Their function was once thought to be to provide oxygen to the roots, which grow in the low dissolved oxygen (DO) waters typical of a swamp (as in mangroves). However, evidence for this is scant; in fact, roots of swamp-dwelling specimens whose knees are removed do not decrease in oxygen content and the trees continue to thrive. Another more likely function is structural support and stabilization. Bald cypress trees growing on flood-prone sites tend to form buttressed bases, but trees grown on drier sites may lack this feature. Buttressed bases and a strong, intertwined root system allow them to resist very strong winds; even hurricanes rarely overturn them.[24]

Many agents damage T. distichum trees. The main damaging (in some cases lethal) agent is the fungus Stereum taxodii, which causes a brown pocket rot known as "pecky cypress". It attacks the heartwood of living trees, usually from the crown down to the roots. A few other fungi attack the sapwood and the heartwood of the tree, but they do not usually cause serious damage. Insects such as the cypress flea beetle and the bald cypress leafroller (Archips goyerana) (closely related to the fruit tree leafroller) can seriously damage trees by destroying leaves, cones or the bark. Nutrias also clip and unroot young bald cypress seedlings, sometimes killing a whole plantation in a short amount of time.[24]

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Timber
A closeup of the bark

This species is a popular ornamental tree, grown for its light, feathery foliage and orange-brown to dull red fall color. 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. Cultivation is successful far to the north of its native range, north to southern Canada. It is also commonly planted in Europe, Asia and elsewhere with temperate to subtropical climates. It does, however, require hot summers for good growth; when planted in areas with cool summers oceanic climates, growth is healthy but very slow (some in northeastern England have only reached 4–5 m tall in about 50 years),[25] and cones are not produced.

Bald cypress has been noted for its high merchantable yields. In virgin stands, yields from 112 to 196 m³/ha were common, and some stands might have exceeded 1000 m³/ha. Bald cypress swamps are some of the world's most productive ecosystems.

The odorless wood of bald cypress, closely resembling that of Cupressus spp., has long been valued for its water resistance, thus is called 'wood eternal'. Still-usable prehistoric wood is often found in swamps as far north as New Jersey, and occasionally as far as New England, although it is more common in the southeast. The somewhat-mineralized wood is mined from some swamps in the southeast, and is highly prized for specialty uses such as wood carvings. Pecky cypress, caused by the fungus Stereum taxodii is used for decorative wall paneling.

The bald cypress was designated the official state tree of Louisiana in 1963.[26] It is considered by some to be a symbol of the southern swamps.

Cypress trees can be used in the making of shingles. Joshua D. Brown, the first settler of Kerrville, Texas, made his living producing shingles from cypress trees growing along the Guadalupe River of the Texas Hill Country.[27] Shingles produced from cypress were also one of the main industries for early pioneers in Kissimmee, Florida (near Walt Disney World). One of the main bodies of water in the area, Shingle Creek, is named in homage of their importance to the growth of the city. [28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Taxodium distichum. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Farjon, A. (2005). Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-068-4
  3. ^ Flora of North America: Taxodium distichum
  4. ^ a b c Gymnosperm Database: Taxodium distichum
  5. ^ a b c http://na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/volume_1/taxodium/distichum.htm
  6. ^ http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/~adk/oldlisteast/Spp/TADI.html
  7. ^ USDA Plants Profiles: Taxodium distichum, Taxodium ascendens
  8. ^ Flora of North America: Taxodium
  9. ^ http://www.pittsburghforest.org/userfiles/file/Lawrenceville%20Tree%20of%20the%20Month/LV_Tree_of_Month_03_Bald_Cypress.pdf
  10. ^ Richard Hinchcliff (2007). For the Love of Trees. General Store Publishing. pp. 52–53. ISBN 978-1-897113-73-8. 
  11. ^ Paul Ferguson (2008). "Searching for Methuselah" (PDF). Pocosin Press. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 2011-04-21. 
  12. ^ "Primeval Underwater Forest Discovered in Gulf of Mexico". Live Science. Retrieved 2013-07-11. 
  13. ^ Faulkner, Stephen P. 1982. Genetic variation of cones, seed and nursery-grown seedlings of baldcypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.] provenances. M.S. Thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. 71 p.
  14. ^ a b Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill. 1183 p.
  15. ^ a b c d e U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1965. Silvics of forest trees of the United States. H. A. Fowells, comp. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 271. Washington, DC. 762 p.
  16. ^ a b c d U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1974. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. C. S. Schopmeyer, tech. coord. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook 450. Washington, DC. 883 p.
  17. ^ Stubbs, Jack. 1983. Personal communication. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Clemson, SC.
  18. ^ Brunswig, Norman L. 1983. Personal communication. National Audubon Society, Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, SC.
  19. ^ Conner, William H, 1988, Natural and artificial regeneration of baldcypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.] in the Barataria and Lake Verret basins of Louisiana. Ph.D. Dissertation, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. 148 p.
  20. ^ Conner, William H., and John R. Toliver. 1987. Vexar seedling protectors did not reduce nutria damage to planted baldcypress seedlings. USDA Forest Service, Tree Planter's Notes 38(3):26-29.
  21. ^ Conner, William H., John R. Toliver, and Fred H. Sklar. 1986. Natural regeneration of baldcypress [Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.] in a Louisiana swamp. Forest Ecology and Management 14:305-317.
  22. ^ Williston, H. L., F. W. Shropshire, and W. E. Balmer. 1980. Cypress management: a forgotten opportunity. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Area State and Private Forestry, Forestry Report SA-FR-8. Atlanta, GA. 8 p.
  23. ^ Bull, H. 1949. Cypress planting in southern Louisiana. Southern Lumberman 179(2249):227-230.
  24. ^ a b U.S. Forest Service Silvics Manual: Taxodium distichum
  25. ^ Tree Register of the British Isles
  26. ^ Calhoun, Milburn; Frois, Jeanne (2006-05-31). Louisiana Almanac, 2006-2007 (17 ed.). Pelican Publishing. p. 431. ISBN 978-1-58980-307-7. 
  27. ^ Historical marker, Texas Historical Commission, Kerrville, Texas, 1971
  28. ^ http://osceola.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/Natural%20Resources/Shingle%20Creek_Brochure_2013_final.pdf
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Notes

Comments

The two varieties recognized in the flora are indistinguishable in reproductive characteristics and continuously intergrading in morphologic and phenologic characteristics, although pure populations of the extremes appear morphologically and ecologically distinct. Unlike the varieties in the flora, var. mexicanum is annually cladoptosic, with determinate short shoots abscising concomitantly with expansion of shoots of the following year. Specimens from juvenile individuals, stump sprouts, fertile branchlets, terminal vegetative branchlets, or late-season growth may not be determinable to variety. 

 Taxodium distichum (baldcypress) is the state tree of Louisiana.

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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

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Comments

The wood is used in buildings, ship construction, furniture manufacture, etc.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Taxodium, and other genera sometimes placed in Taxodiaceae, here treated in family Cupressaceae, following Kartesz (1999) and FNA. LEM 16Jan02.

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Common Names

More info for the term: swamp

baldcypress
pondcypress
cypress
white cypress
Gulf cypress
southern cypress
red cypress
swamp cypress
yellow cypress

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The currently accepted scientific name for baldcypress is Taxodium
distichum L. Rich. The species is divided into two commonly recognized
varieties that are differentiated by morphology, habitat, and distribution [34,56,59]:

Taxodium distichum var. distichum, baldcypress
Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium (Nuttall) Croom, pondcypress

Morphology: Pondcypress is less likely than baldcypress to have knees,
and when it does have them, they are shorter and more rounded. Its
fluted base tends to have rounded rather than sharp ridges and its bark
is usually more coarsely ridged. Its branches are more ascending than
those of baldcypress. Seedlings and fast-growing shoots of pondcypress,
however, are much like the typical variety of baldcypress. Despite the usual
differences in the two varieties, it is sometimes very difficult to
distinguish them [39,53].

Habitat: Pondcypress grows in shallow ponds and wet areas westward only to
southeastern Louisiana. It does not usually grow in rivers or stream
swamps. Baldcypress is more widespread and typical of the species. Its range
extends westward into Texas and northward into Illinois and Indiana [12,53].

The name "cypress" is used in this review when referring to both
varieties collectively.
  • 12.  Conner, William H.; Toliver, John R. 1990. Observations on the        regeneration of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum [L.]
  • 39.  Monk, Carl D.; Brown, Timothy W. 1965. Ecological consideration of        cypress heads in north-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 74:        126-140.  [10848]
  • 53.  Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.        baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical        coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric.        Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service: 563-572.  [13416]
  • 34.  Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native        and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p.  [2952]
  • 56.  Flora of North America Association. 2008. Flora of North        America: The flora, [Online]
  • 59.  Farjon, Alijos. 1998. World checklist and bibliography of conifers.           2nd ed.  Kew, England: The Royal Botanic Gardens. 309 p.  [61059]

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