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 Taxodium subsp. var.  
Bald Cypress forest
Habit: tree
Height: to
Width: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Water: wet, moist
Features: evergreen, deciduous
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Minimum Temp: °Fwarning.png"°F" is not a number.
USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Cupressaceae > Taxodium var. ,

Taxodium (pronounced /tækˈsoʊdiəm/)[1] is a genus of one to three species (depending on taxonomic opinion) of extremely flood-tolerant conifers in the cypress family, Cupressaceae. The generic name is derived from the Latin word taxus, meaning "yew," and the Greek word εἶδος (eidos), meaning "similar to."[2] Within the family, Taxodium is most closely related to Chinese Swamp Cypress (Glyptostrobus pensilis) and Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica).

Species of Taxodium occur in the southern part of the North American continent and are deciduous in the north and semi-evergreen to evergreen in the south. They are large trees, reaching 100 - 150 ft tall and 2 - 3 m (exceptionally 11 m ft ) trunk diameter. The needle-like leaves, 0.5 - 2 cm long, are borne spirally on the shoots, twisted at the base so as to appear in two flat rows on either side of the shoot. The cones are globose, 2 - 3.5 cm diameter, with 10-25 scales, each scale with 1-2 seeds; they are mature in 7-9 months after pollination, when they disintegrate to release the seeds. The male (pollen) cones are produced in pendulous racemes, and shed their pollen in early spring.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Taxodium (alluding to the similarity of the foliage to that of Taxus). Syn., Glyptostrobus, Schubertia. Pinaceae. Ornamental woody plants, grown chiefly for their graceful feathery foliage.

Deciduous or evergreen trees or shrubs: lvs. alternate, linear, usually 2-ranked, falling off in autumn or the second year together with the short lateral branchlets: fls. monoecious, small; staminate fls. catkin-like, consisting of spirally arranged anthers, with 4-9 anther- cells and forming terminal panicles; pistillate fls. solitary or in pairs at the ends of branchlets of the previous year, composed of imbricated scales bearing 2 ovules inside at the base: cone globose or nearly so, maturing the first year, consisting of spirally arranged woody scales enlarged at the apex into an irregularly 4-sided disk with a mucro in the middle and toward the base narrowed into a slender stalk; 2 triangular, winged seeds under each scale; cotyledons 4-9.—Two species in N. Amer. and 1 in China.

Of the three species, the only one well known in cultivation is the bald cypress. T. distichum, a tall pyramidal deciduous tree with small linear two-ranked leaves and small globose cones. It is hardy as far north as New England and is a very desirable tree for park planting. Its light green feathery foliage and the narrow pyramidal habit which it usually retains in cultivation give it a very distinct appearance. In its native habitat it forms in old age a broad round-topped head sometimes 100 feet across and has the trunk much enlarged at the base by huge often hollow buttresses projecting in all directions and terminating in long horizontal roots. From these roots spring the peculiar cypress knees, pyramidal protuberances composed of a very light, soft, spongy wood and spongy bark. These sometimes attain a height of 10 feet and with age usually become hollow. From the under side of the horizontal roots large anchor-roots are sent perpendicularly into the earth and help to anchor the tree firmly in the swampy yielding soil. The knees are thought by some to be formed for the purpose of strengthening this root-system, since they are chiefly found opposite to the anchor-roots, but their main purpose is probably to bring air to the roots during the several weeks or months when the swamps are covered with water. The knees always grow high enough to rise above the surface of the water (see, also, G. F. 3, pp. 2, 21, 22, 57). The bald cypress is one of the most valuable timber trees of North America. The wood is brown, light and soft, close and straight-grained, but not strong; it is easily worked, durable in the soil and much used for construction. The bald cypress thrives best in moist sandy soil, but also does well in drier situations. The habit seems to depend somewhat on the degree of moisture; in drier soil the head is more narrow-pyramidal, in moist soil broader and more spreading. Propagated by seeds sown in spring and the varieties by grafting on seedling stock early in spring in the greenhouse; also by cuttings in sand constantly saturated with water or grown in water alone, under glass.

T. heterophyllum, Brongn. (Glyptostrobus heterophyllus, Endl.). Shrub, 10 ft. high: lower branches pendulous: lvs. linear and scale-like on the same plant: cones ovoid, 3/4 in. long. China. Tender and rarely cult. Often confounded with varieties of T. distichum.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



Pests and diseases


The three taxa of Taxodium are treated here as distinct species, though some botanists treat them in just one or two species, with the others considered as varieties of the first described. The three are distinct in ecology, growing in different environments, but hybridise where they meet.

The Pond Cypress occurs within the range of Bald Cypress, but only on the southeastern coastal plain from North Carolina to Louisiana. It occurs in still blackwater rivers, ponds and swamps without silt-rich flood deposits.

The most familiar species in the genus is the Bald Cypress, native to much of the southeastern United States, from Delaware to Texas, especially Louisiana and inland up the Mississippi River to southern Indiana. It occurs mainly along rivers with silt-rich flood deposits.

The Montezuma Cypress occurs from the Lower Rio Grande Valley south to the highlands of southern Mexico, and differs from the other two species in being substantially evergreen. A specimen in Santa María del Tule, Oaxaca, the Árbol del Tule, is 43 m ft tall and has the greatest trunk thickness of all trees, 11.42 m ft in diameter. It is a riparian tree, occurring on the banks of streams and rivers, not in swamps like the Bald and Pond Cypresses.



  1. Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. Everett, Thomas H. (1982). The New York Botanical Garden Illustrated Encyclopedia of Horticulture. 10. Taylor & Francis. p. 3299. ISBN 9780824072407. 

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