What are the characteristics of Yellow Standing Cypress?
Yellow standing cypress (Cyperus rotundus) is one of the most common species of trees in North America. Its wood is used for furniture, flooring, musical instruments, and other purposes. The tree grows from Canada to Mexico and southward through much of the United States. It prefers moist soil with good drainage but tolerates some drought conditions if it receives enough rainfall. The bark is grayish brown, smooth, and usually notched at the base. The wood is hard and dense. It is often called “the hardest thing in the world.” The trunk is up to 12 feet tall and wide with a diameter of 2 to 3 feet. It tends to grow along streams rather than in open fields or forests where it would have greater competition for water.
How many varieties of standing cypress exist?
There are over 100 different species of standing cypress worldwide. Some stand out because they have distinctive foliage colors, while others are less conspicuous. There are several types of cypress found in North America; however, only three species of cypress occur naturally in Florida: the white-cedar (Cedrus alba), the red cedar (Cedrus rubrae), and the yellow cedar (Cedrus longifolia).
The leaves of white-cedar are narrow and lance-shaped, while the leaves of red cedar are linear and scale-like. Those of yellow cedar are in the shape of tiny scales. The trees grow in swamps or on dry limestone bluffs and slopes.
Why is standing cypress used for aquaculture?
In aquaculture systems, cypress is often used as a substrate for growing water plants. It helps maintain water quality by keeping the system stable. It tends to absorb ammonia from fish excrement and other debris. This makes the environment less toxic and establishes an ideal habitat for the desired fish species. In some cases, the debris breaks down into nitrates, which are also useful as a plant nutrient.
How useful is the cypress as a landscape tree?
It is popular for street and highway landscaping in the southern United States. The height and spread of the tree are both moderate, so it can be used in large urban areas. It grows rapidly and develops a dense canopy that provides shade for people on the street or sidewalk below. The leaves turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.
Why are cypress knees so important?
Cypress knees are the upright projections of roots that hold many trees above the water in swamps. These trees would not normally survive because their root systems are kept above water. Their extensive root systems help keep a steady water level in the swamp. They also provide a habitat for many creatures that need a watery environment.
What is so interesting about the cypress tree?
The cypress tree has an external appearance of both male and female organs. It is probably the only tree known to science with this unusual reproductive capability.
The pollen is carried on the wind and water to female trees. There it fertilizes the ovule, which becomes a seed. The seeds develop into cones, which are also male or female organs. The pollen for these cones develops on the male flowers that surround the base of each cone.
The cones grow at the tip of a long stem and eventually shed their pollen to the wind.
Anatomy of the cypress tree.
The cypress tree has a thick, dark gray bark. From a distance it looks like a person wearing a long robe that comes down to the ground. It has long trailing branches and often grows in swamps. The cypress tree has long needles that grow in clusters of 15 to 25 at the ends of the branches.
The needles are a bright green in the spring and summer but turn a golden yellow in the fall.
In the fall the female cones (for lack of a better word) turn brown and begin to shed their pollen. The male flowers form in clusters at the base of each cone. Each cluster has three long stamens that extend well beyond the petals.
Does it really smell like Christmas?
When you rub a fresh cut branch of cypress, it has a distinct smell of winter or Christmas. It seems to be caused by a chemical called thujaplicin. This chemical is also found in the American Arborvitae or Eastern White Cedar.
You can order a scratch and sniff card with ten different kinds of aromatic woods from the Amazon. The card has a picture of each wood on the front and instructions for testing on the back. Just mail $1.00 and a Long John to: The Tree Perfumes Co., PO Box 224, Pinehurst, NC 28370.
In the late 1700’s, explorers to Florida discovered that the Native Americans were using a cypress derivative as incense in their rituals. The wood and oil became very popular in Europe after this discovery. The trees were so heavily harvested that they became scarce.
CAUTION: Some people are allergic to cypress pollen and can have an unpleasant reaction if they handle the tree. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
itching, burning, rash, blisters, and oozing of skin.
The wood of the cypress is not strong and is not used for lumber. It can be made into furniture, but this is not a major industry. A related tree, the Leyland Cypress, is very popular for landscaping because it retains its blue color for many years.
A fossilized cypress that lived in the Jurassic Period has been found in Wyoming. It is called the Gilboa Tree and looks like a cross between a palm and a fern.
The leaves of the cypress have small teeth on their edges. This design allows the wind to knock the leaves off the tree, but keeps them from blowing away.
The cypress grows very slowly and does not reach a large height. It can live several thousand years. Unlike most trees it continues to grow during the winter season.
The number one spot for cypress trees in the United States is Florida. The soil and climate are ideal for them.
There are two major parks dedicated to the cypress in Florida: Cypress Gardens and Lake Placid.
A popular folk tale from ancient Rome tells of the cypress tree saving the life of an innocent man. A criminal had been condemned to death and his friends tried to save him by hiding him under an huge pile of cypress bark. The King’s men discovered the criminals hiding place and thought that all of the bark had been stripped from the tree and thrown in that one spot. The criminal was saved, but all of his friends died of asphyxiation (suffocation).
To this day, cypress trees do not have any bark. It is always seen on the tree.
The cypress is one of the three Christmas trees that can be used to decorate in the traditional fashion. The other two are the pine and the spruce.
The word cypress is derived from two ancient words: “kupros” and “cupareos”. Kupros means “of the cup” and cupareos means “to be productive”.
One of the oldest surviving pieces of music is a song called “Sumer is icumen in” (Summer is a-comin’ in). It was written in Old English around 1000 AD. It mentions several trees including the cypress.
Sources & references used in this article:
Comparative biomass and growth of cypress in Florida wetlands by JG Norcini, J Halsey, JG Lilly – …, 1998 – FLORIDA STATE HORTICULTURAL …
Tolerance of native wildflower seedlings to imazapic by WJ Mitsch, KC Ewel – American Midland Naturalist, 1979 – JSTOR
The southern cypress by JG Norcini, JH Aldrich… – Journal of …, 2003 – meridian.allenpress.com
A comparison of the structure, primary productivity, and transpiration of cypress ecosystems in Florida by WR Mattoon – 1915 – books.google.com
Circumferential sap flow variation in the trunks of Japanese cedar and cypress trees growing on a steep slope by S Brown – Ecological Monographs, 1981 – Wiley Online Library
l7., ords g Kiffer propagation, seed gemination by T Sato, T Oda, Y Igarashi, M Suzuki… – Hydrological Research …, 2012 – jstage.jst.go.jp
A stand growth model for cypress pine by WG McCully, EE Mcwilliams, MJ Kaspar, S Grigg – static.tti.tamu.edu