Bald Cypress (Cypressus sempervirens) is one of the most popular plants for home gardens. It grows naturally in North America from Maine to Texas and southward into Mexico. It is native to the eastern United States, but it was introduced into Florida and Georgia during colonial times. Since then it has spread throughout much of the southeastern U.S., including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York state and South Carolina. It is now found from California to Tennessee and northward into Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The name “bald” refers to its rounded appearance when young. When mature it becomes more like a pine cone with a distinct tip at the top.
Its leaves are usually green or brownish-green and they grow up to 3 feet tall, although some have been known to reach 6 feet tall. They are smooth and round, with 5 to 7 leaflets per leaflet. Their flowers are white or pinkish-white and bloom from spring through fall.
There are many varieties of bald cypress grown for their woody stems, which make them useful in making furniture, baskets, crates and other items. However, the best use for these plants is in landscaping because of their ability to produce large amounts of new foliage each year.
They make a stately addition to any yard and can thrive in wet or dry conditions, although they prefer wetter lands.
Bald cypress need a lot of room to grow because they spread their roots out widely. They also are not bothered by shallow flooding, although they typically grow in wet swampy areas.
The roots can be as deep as 20 feet under the ground, but extend outward only 3 to 4 feet at most. This makes them secure and stable without being a risk to sidewalks or driveways, which many other trees often are. Their branches also tend to be above the water line of most swamps and marshes, which makes them a wonderful source of shade.
Bald cypress trees grow very quickly when they are young. They can grow up to 1 foot per year and reach heights of 150 feet or more.
They typically live for more than 500 years and some have been around for more than 2,000 years. There is one in Georgia known as the Senator that is over 2,500 years old.
Bald cypress tree facts:
The bald cypress gets its name from its similarity in appearance to a human skeleton. The top of the tree is rounded and it resembles a head, complete with a “skull” and “ribs.” This is especially true of younger trees.
The wood of the bald cypress is very soft, making it useless for lumber, but it makes excellent firewood and charcoal. Indians used to carve bowls, cooking utensils and other items out of the wood.
The wood has even been burned as a source of heat in areas where this was all that was available.
The tree grows in saltwater marshes, as well as fresh water. It can survive in both and actually needs both in order to thrive.
Bald cypress trees can be found growing in large groups called “cypress domes.” These groups are like small forests and can be seen from satellite images.
The tree has been known to colonize areas that have been flooded by humans for the purpose of raising oysters or shrimp. They also thrive in wastewater treatment facilities and can sometimes even take root on mud banks.
Bald cypress trees have been placed in several different areas of the world that are not their natural habitat, such as the Azores, Cape Verde, Fiji, New Zealand and even parts of England, where they thrive.
Many animals find bald cypress trees to be excellent sources of food and harborage. They are consumed by beavers, otters, muskrats, ducks, geese and other birds.
Their resin is even used by some insects for building their nests.
The tree has a very distinct odor and the smoke from a fire made from its wood has been known to cure muscle aches.
Due to its softness, bald cypress wood is not often used in construction. However, it does make an excellent source of pulp for making paper and is sometimes used for this purpose in areas where it grows abundantly.
Bald cypress wood can be used as a source of tannin, which is used in the leather industry. It can also be distilled to produce turpentine.
The tree is used in landscape design for its distinctive look. It can be pruned to maintain its “skeleton” appearance or allowed to grow naturally for a fuller look.
Bald cypress trees are not affected by many of the pests and diseases that other trees are. The primary threats are insects that attack the foliage and can cause defoliation, but this doesn’t typically kill the tree.
The bald cypress gets its name from a combination of features. The tree does resemble a human skeleton and it has a bulbous swelling at the base of its trunk that looks like a bald head.
The oldest bald cypress trees date back more than 2,000 years.
The tree is a native of the southern United States, but it can also be found in Mexico and as far down as Nicaragua.
The diameter of its trunk can range from three to 20 feet and can grow to a height of 100 feet or more. The largest cypress trees are known to be more than 50 feet in circumference.
The tree can grow in either wet or dry conditions and is drought resistant. It grows best, however, in wet swampy areas.
The bald cypress tree or Taxodium distichum, is a long-living species of tree in the cypress family. It is also known as the southern cypress and water cypress.
cypress trees are some of the oldest living creatures on this planet
They can survive for hundreds and possibly even thousands of years.
Very old cypress trees have been known to develop “root suckers.” New trees start growing from the root system of an older tree and can sometimes become another, separate tree all on its own.
The bald cypress tree is the official state tree of Louisiana.
The oldest bald cypress tree in the world is found in the Florida swamps and is over 4,000 years old. It is named “The Senator.”
Bald cypress trees can be susceptible to diseases that affect other cypress trees. The fungus disease, white pine blister, can cause the wood to become weak and is often fatal.
Bald cypress trees have very shallow roots. The longest root on a tree was only 11 feet 5 inches long.
The longest branch on a tree was 42 feet long.
There are over 100 different species of trees in the United States. The types and quantities of trees in a particular area depend on the climate and environment.
There are six major forest types in North America. Taiga or Boreal Forests are found in Alaska, Canada, and parts of Northern New England. These consist of conifers such as spruces, firs, pines, and hemlocks. These trees lose their leaves in the fall. Temperate Broadleaf Deciduous Forests are what we typically think of when we imagine forests. Leaves fall off the trees during the autumn months. Temperate coniferous forests are found in parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine, and New York. Coniferous trees such as pines, firs, redwoods, and hemlocks make up this type of forest. Wet Tropical Forests can be found in Mexico, Central America, South America, and some islands of the Caribbean. The trees here drop their leaves during the winter. Dry Tropical Forests are found in Southern Mexico, the Caribbean, and parts of Central America. The trees in this region retain their leaves all year round. Canadian Boreal Forests can be found in parts of Alaska and Canada. Conifers such as firs, spruces, and pines are the dominant trees here. Deciduous and Needleleaf Mixed Forests have a wide range and are found from New Jersey to Maine, West Virginia, Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. These forests have both broadleaf and needleleaf trees such as oaks, hickories, maples, and pines.
There are many factors that affect the type of trees and plants that grow in a particular area. These factors include climate, elevation, and the amount of sunlight an area receives.
The dominant types of plants in an area are called plant communities. There are many different types of communities and each is adapted to a particular environment or climate.
A good example of this is the desert. The climate in deserts is harsh and many plants and animals have adapted in various ways to survive under these conditions.
In arid deserts, the environment receives a lot of sunlight, but it does not rain very often. These types of deserts are large, broad regions that cover much of the southwestern United States.
Summer temperatures in the day can be very hot and can reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more in some places. At night, the temperature can drop dramatically to below freezing.
In these types of deserts, plants have developed various methods of storing water. Cacti such as saguaros have specialized cells to store water so that it can survive long dry periods.
Prickly pears also store water in thickened stems and pads. Other plants such as yuccas store water in their thick roots.
Another type of desert is known as the rain shadow desert. This type of desert gets less rain than other surrounding areas because it lies in a “rain shadow” caused by mountains.
One example of this is the Great Basin Desert, which lies in a rain shadow caused by the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Snow may lie on the peaks of these mountains throughout the year, even during the summer months. The peaks may also hold onto the rain clouds, preventing the clouds from passing on to other areas.
The Great Basin Desert is part of a larger region known as the Great Basin. This region also includes small parts of Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.
The land in the Great Basin Desert is mostly flat with isolated rugged mountains and scattered smooth hills. There are dry lakes surrounded by sand dunes and bare rocks.
Soil is mostly non-existent and what soil there is has a lot of soluble minerals, which have dissolved in groundwater so that they are not available for plant growth. Water tends to collect in the lowest places, sometimes forming shallow wetlands. These sometimes dry up during droughts.
There are many different types of animals that have adapted to this harsh environment. The most well known animal of this desert may be the Desert Tortoise.
They are known to live up to at least 80 years of age and can go without food or water for about 10 years. As their name suggests, they have a hard shell on their back, which protects them from predators. They also have a large gland on their neck which releases moisture across their body, which helps with thermoregulation.
Another well-known animal that inhabits this desert is the kangaroo rat. They can jump up to 12 feet in a single bound!
They do this by storing fat in their large legs. This fat is metabolized to provide the energy for the leap. They also can survive the hot desert temperatures because they have a thick coat, no blubber or fur, and large feet that radiate their body heat away from them.
In more ways than you might realize, plants and animals in an environment will affect each other. One animal that feeds on plants is the rattlesnake.
The rattlesnake has developed a special relationship with certain plants. In this case, it is the flower known as the Tarflower. The flower provides food (in the form of nectar) for the rattlesnake and thorns on the flower can draw the venom out of a rattlesnake bite.
Another important type of relationship in this desert is the relationship between the desert and the people that inhabit it. Many Indian tribes have made their homes in this desert for centuries.
In fact some people believe that the Hohokam, a now extinct tribe, were the first people to live here thousands of years ago. There are many reasons for why they moved on, but most likely it was a combination of drought and social issues that caused them to leave.
Even today, the desert remains a harsh environment for people to live in. People have had to adapt to the desert in various ways as well.
One way is to find sources of water and make sure they do not waste any. Another way is to build houses with solar panels on the roof. These panels help keep homes cool by collecting heat during the day and radiating it back out at night.
The people that live in this region may not be able to enjoy the view of the red rocks at sunset or the saguaro cacti in bloom, but they are able to enjoy the quiet peacefulness and solitude of this desert.
Go to Desert Adaptations page.
Go to Desert Animals page.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Long-term trends in the bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) resource in Louisiana (USA) by WH Conner, JR Toliver – Forest Ecology and Management, 1990 – Elsevier
Growth and nutrition of baldcypress families planted under varying salinity regimes in Louisiana, USA by KW Krauss, JL Chambers, JA Allen… – Journal of Coastal …, 2000 – JSTOR
Biophysical mechanisms of trichloroethene uptake and loss in baldcypress growing in shallow contaminated groundwater by CT Nietch, JT Morris, DA Vroblesky – Environmental Science & …, 1999 – ACS Publications
Identification of salt tolerant baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich) for planting in coastal areas by WH Conner, LW Inabinette – New Forests, 2005 – Springer