Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

previous  | next

Bald Cypress Taxodium distichum


enlarge +

Bald Cypress, habit
credit: USDA NRCS

All Images

1 article:

Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Alternate name: Southern Bald Cypress

Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Large deciduous aquatic conifer tree, submerged roots with knees at base, protruding above water. Branches spread widely. Crown frequently flat. Bark gray-red brown, vertically fissured, stringy texture. Leaves on deciduous branchlets spirally arranged on stem twisted to lie in two horizontal ranks, 1-2 cm long and 1-2 mm broad. Deciduous hence the name 'bald'. Monoecious. Male and female strobili mature in about 12 months. Seed cones green mature gray-brown, globular, 2-3.5 cm in diameter. Scales 20–30 spirally arranged, each bearing one or two triangular seeds. Seeds 5-10 mm long, 20–40 per cone.

Dimensions Height: 30-37 m (100-120 ft) or more.
Diameter: 0.9-1.5 m (3-5 ft) , rarely 3 m (10 ft) or more.

Habitat Swamps (fresh & salt).

Range Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Plains, Florida, Great Lakes.

Discussion Prefers warm climates, natural northern limit of the species not due to a lack of cold tolerance, but to specific reproductive requirements; further north, regeneration prevented by ice damage to seedlings. Larger trees able to tolerate much lower temperatures and lower humidities.

Grows in swamps having a peculiarity of growth called cypress knees; woody projections sent above the ground or water that are part of the root system believed to be structural support and stabilization. Baldcypress growing on flood-prone sites tend to form buttressed bases, trees grown on drier sites may lack this feature. Buttressed bases and a strong, intertwined root system allows resistance to very strong winds; hurricanes rarely overturn them.