Bald Cypress







Bald Cypress

(Taxiodium distichum)

Interesting Information About Plant:        


    The Bald Cypress is a very interesting and unique tree. The bald cypress is so named due to its uncommon “baldness” (or bare looking branches) as a gymnosperm. The bald cypress is the only member of its family that is native to North America- in fact, according to Yahoo!, the redwood and the bald cypress are the only two trees native to this continent.  It is found typically throughout the southeastern United States, and is surprisingly widespread throughout the Everglades of Florida and other swampy areas.  It has structures developed from its roots called “knees”- they grow out of the water in order to perform gas exchange, which helps the tree survive in the marshes.

    Although there are no medicinal uses of the bald cypress, it is very popularly used for lumber and making furniture, because it has powerful anti-fungal properties. The wood of the Bald Cypress is also strong and heavy making it great for outdoor construction as it is resistant to shrinkage, rotting and termites. In the Middle Ages, Cypress was often used as the wood to create large carved cathedral doors.  Timber isn’t the only thing the bald cypress was used for. The resin in the cones on the Bald Cypress were also used as a healing balm for various aliments, especially rashes on the skin and wounds. The Bald Cypress is also used as an ornamental tree. In 1963, it was named Louisiana’s state tree.

Scientific Name: Taxiodium distichum

Family Name (Scientific and Common): Taxodieae (Cypress)

Continent of Origin: North America

Plant Growth Habit: Large Tree 

Height at Maturity: More than 10 Feet

Life Span: Perennial

Seasonal Habit: Deciduous Perennial

Growth Habitat: Full sun

Manner of Culture: Native species  

Thorns on Younger Stem: No

Cross Section of Younger Stem: Roundish  

Stem (or Trunk) Diameter: More than the Diameter of a Coffee Mug

Produces Brownish Bark: Yes

Bark Peeling in Many Areas: No

Characteristics of Mature (Brownish) Bark: Smooth bark

Type of Leaf: Needle-like

Length of Leaf (or Leaflet): Length of a Credit Card

Leaf Complexity: Simple

Edge of Leaf: Smooth

Leaf Arrangement: Alternate

Leaf has Petiole: No 

Patterns of Main-Veins on Leaf (or Leaflet): Pinnate

Leaf Hairiness: No Hairs

Color of Foliage in Summer: Green 

Change in Color of Foliage in October: Changes to Orange-Brown

Flowering Season: Spring

Flowers: Cones in Clusters  

Type of Flower: Pine cone

Color of Flower: Brown  

Sexuality: Hermaphroditic Flower   

Size of Fruit: Between a Quarter and the Length of a Credit Card

Fruit Fleshiness: Dry

Shape of Fruit: Spherical   

Color of Fruit at Maturity: Brown

Fruit Desirable to Birds or Squirrels: No   

Common Name(s): Bald Cypress;  

Louisville Plants That Are Most Easily Confused With This One: Common pine tree

Unique Morphological Features of Plant: Plant has the ability to grow “knees”

Poisonous: None of Plant 

Pestiness (weedy, hard to control): No


Page prepared by:


Lauren Underwood & Jessica R. Corder    


November 2004



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© Bellarmine University, Louisville, KY 2002-2004