Bald-cypress

Branches of 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. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

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

Foliage:

  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Illinois,
  • North America

Planting Site:

  • Residential and parks,
  • City parkway,
  • Wide median,
  • Restricted sites

Landscape Uses:

  • Massing,
  • Specimen

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 (Chicago),
  • 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

Ornamental Interest:

  • Fall color,
  • Attractive bark

Season of Interest:

  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Pyramidal

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

Transplants Well:

  • Yes

Wildlife:

  • Birds,
  • Small mammals,
  • Water birds

More Information:

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

Tree & Plant Care

Best grown in full sun in wet, dry, and swampy locations.
Acid soils are best. May 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.

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 

Cascade Falls bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Cascade Falls’) is a weeping form, 8 to 20 feet high.

Green Whisper® bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘JFS-SGPN’) has very bright green foliage.  The tree has a very soft , feathery look.

Peve Minaret bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum ‘Peve Minaret’) is a dwarf cultivar growing 8 to 10 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide.

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

Location of Taxodium distichum (Bald-cypress) at the Arboretum