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Baldcypress A deciduous conifer tree from the Baldcypress Family (Taxodiaceae)
Zone: 4-7
Growth Rate: Rapid
Mature Spread: 25'
Mature Height: 60'
Shape: Pyramidal to flat-topped
Sunlight: Full sun / Part shade
Soil Type: Prefers moist to wet

Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), a deciduous conifer (like the Larches), is native to wet areas of the lower and middle Mississippi Valley drainage basin, the south Atlantic and Gulf Coastal states, and especially Florida. Its northernmost native range is the extreme southern tips of Indiana and Illinois, but this tree is extensively planted in dry areas throughout the Eastern United States as an ornamental tree, including Ohio. Its pyramidal to spire-like growth is formal in youth, becoming more columnar and open with great age. This is the tree from which cypress mulch is made, and the source trees (especially in Florida) are being rapidly depleted.

Baldcypress in winterAs a deciduous conifer, the leaves of Baldcypress drop off in autumn, and its cones are round balls that release their seeds in autumn and winter. Trees in Ohio may reach 80 feet tall by 30 feet wide when found in the open. As a member of the Baldcypress Family, it is also related to Dawn Redwood and Giant Redwood. The outline of young Baldcypress ranges from strongly pyramidal to upright oval, and in winter one can see the multitude of horizontal branches that make up the canopy. Older trees retain the broad columnar outline.

Planting Requirements - Baldcypress actually prefers moist, acidic, sandy loam soils with moderately good drainage, but is often found in flooded situations or at the edge of bodies of water, with some or all of its roots submerged in water. It adapts readily to moist and well- drained soils, or even dry soils of rich, poor, or average composition, and can be completely "land-locked" with no ill effects. It thrives in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 11.

Potential Problems - Baldcypress has several diseases and pests that can cause problems, but these do not usually occur. Chlorosis can be a problem in high pH soils; otherwise, this is a trouble-free species.


Baldcypress leaf

Baldcypress has miniature needlelike leaves that attach to twiglets, and these twiglets attach to the main twig in a spiraled fashion.

Baldcypress leaf in autumn

In autumn, the leaves change from medium green to shades of orange, cinnamon, and tan, before the needles and twiglets together absisce from the twig.


Baldcypress catkin

Baldcypress, a monoecious species, has its dormant male catkins elongate in late winter or very early spring (upper left), and these sway in the harsh winds of March, pollinating the nearby female flowers.


Baldcypress fruit

Fruits (actually round cones) mature in one season, becoming prominent green balls that appear to be engraved with curving grooves on the cone surface. Triangular seeds are released from the brown cones in autumn and winter.



Baldcypress has small sessile buds and knobby leaf scars arranged in spiral fashion along the thin twigs, most easily visible in winter. (A closely related species, Dawn Redwood, has opposite, stalked buds that are prominently visible in winter).


Baldcypress bark

The bark of Baldcypress is tan to reddish-brown and has a shredded and stringy appearance, similar to that of Eastern Red Cedar and Arborvitae.


Baldcypress root

In wet sites, the trunk exhibits a great degree of basal flare, and the roots rise up to form woody knees, which are elongated projections that rise above the waterline.