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TREES & plants

Bald-cypress

This stately conifer, native to the Midwest, often is found in groupings in parks and larger spaces, along streets, and around lakes. Unlike most cone-bearing trees, bald-cypress loses its needles each winter and grows a new set in spring. The russet-red fall color of its lacy needles is one of its outstanding characteristics. Hardy and tough, this tree will adapt to a wide range of soil types, whether wet, dry, or even swampy. 

Botanical name: 
Taxodium distichum
All Common Names: 
bald-cypress, bald cypress, baldcypress, swamp cypress, white-cypress, tidewater red-cypress, gulf-cypress, red-cypress
Family (English): 
Cypress
Family (Botanic): 
Cupressaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Native Locale: 
  • Chicago area
  • Illinois
  • North America
Planting Site: 
  • City parkway
  • Wide median
  • Restricted sites
  • Residential and parks
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
  • Massing
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet)
Mature Height: 
50-70 feet
Mature Width: 
20-30 feet
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4
  • Zone 5
  • Zone 6
  • Zone 7
  • Zone 8
  • Zone 9
  • Zone 10
  • Zone 11
Soil Preference: 
  • Acid soil
  • Wet soil
Acid Soils: 
  • Prefers
Alkaline Soils: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Salt Spray: 
  • Tolerant
Soil Salt: 
  • Intolerant
Drought Conditions: 
  • Moderately Tolerant
Poor Drainage: 
  • Tolerant
Foliage: 
  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
Ornamental Interest: 
  • Attractive bark
  • Fall color
Time of Year: 
  • Early fall
  • Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Pyramidal
Transplants Well: 
  • Yes
Wildlife: 
  • Birds
  • Small mammals
  • Water birds
More Information: 

Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum)Bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum)photo: John Hagstrom
Size

50 to 70 feet high and 20 to 30 feet wide.

 

Tree & Plant Care

Best grown in full sun in wet, dry, and swampy locations. 

Acid soils are best. Will show chlorosis symptoms (yellowing) in high pH (alkaline) soil.

Disease, pests, and problems

The bald cypress is susceptible to twig blight, spider mite, gall forming mite, and cypress moths.

Native geographic location and habitat

Southern US, especially wetlands and coastal areas.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife

Waterfowl are attracted the tree for seeds and shelter.

Bark color and texture 

Attractive, fibrous, reddish-brown bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Soft, feathery needles turn russet-red in autumn before falling. This is one of the few conifers (cone-bearing trees) that loses its needles in winter and grows a new set in spring.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Male and female flowers in separate structures on the same tree; inconspicuous

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small round cones stay on branches into the winter.

Cultivars and their differences 

Casecade Falls (Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’) is a weeping form, 8 to 20 feet high

Monarch of Illinois (Taxodium distichum ‘Monarch of Illinois’) is broadly pyramidal in shape, wider than the species.

Pendens (Taxodium distichum ‘Pendens’) has a pyramidal form with drooping branches.

Shawnee Brave (Taxodium distichum ‘Shawnee Brave’) is narrowly pyramidal, 50 feet high and 20 feet wide, good for small urban spaces.