Tennessee Smart Yards Native Plants

A comprehensive database of Tennessee native plants

Bald Cypress, Baldcypress

Bald Cypress, Baldcypress

Taxodium distichum

Full to part sun; wet to medium moisture level; best growth on deep, fine, sandy loams but also grows in muck, clay or fine sand; acidic pH.

50-70 feet height by 20-30 feet spread; very inconspicuous flowers in late winter to early spring; fruit is a globular, purple-brown cone, 1 inch long and 1 – 1 ¼ inch wide, in fall.

Growth Rate   Medium

Maintenance: No serious disease or insect problems

Propagation: Moderately easy from seed. Soil saturated for 1-3 months after seedfall is required for germination.

Native Region: Common in Coastal Plain Province

A stately conifer tree in the same family as the Redwoods and having soft, ferny foliage and a distinctive columnar to pyramidal shape. Tree is deciduous and goes bald in winter, hence the common name, and then grows a new crop of needles each spring. When in leaf, it has a wonderful, soft, green texture. Needles are feathery, yellowish-green and turn an attractive orange, cinnamon-brown before falling in autumn. Native to swamps, streambanks, and other riparian areas. One of few of our trees that can thrive in standing water. In standing water, develops “knees,” cone-shaped outgrowths of the roots that form in shallow water and rise above the high water mark. Grows well away from water in drier upland sites if soil is reasonably moist but does not develop the knees. Poor drainage is fine but does not tolerate drought. Easy to grow and long-lived. Cultivars available, including dwarf trees such as ‘Peve Minaret’.

Seeds eaten by turkey, wood ducks, grosbeaks, squirrels, waterfowl and wading birds. Nesting site for birds. Larval food for Baldcypress Spinx moth.

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2 responses to “Bald Cypress, Baldcypress

  1. joystewart September 6, 2017 at 1:44 am

    My experience with this tree has been a bit mind-boggling. I planted the dwarf ‘Peve Minaret’ in 2009, roughly 8 years ago. In 2009, one year later, I also planted a Zelkova (Zelkova serrata) because I needed a fast growing tree, and Zelkovas can do up to 3 feet a year. As of today, my Zelkova is about 25-30 feet tall, which means it has grown at a rate of about 2.75 feet per year. In contrast my “dwarf” Bald Cypress is 30-35 feet tall, which means it has grown at about 3.75 feet per year. Both are planted near each other and in solid red clay with only a shallow layer of top soil. For starters, either ‘Peve Minaret’ is very inaccurately described as a dwarf that only gets 6-10′ tall, or I was sold the species tree with an incorrect label. If it was mislabeled, it is still amazing that a bald cypress planted in ordinary red clay can outgrow a Zelkova! That is one tough tree!! The only problem is that I have a still-growing tree 30-35 feet tall and 15-18 feet across planted in a site that only has room for a tree that is supposed to be 6-10 feet feet tall and 5 feet across. (I haven’t done anything special to help the tree along. It’s only benefit is that it is in a spot where it does get some rain run-off from my neighbor’s yard in a heavy rain.) So anyway, I encourage people to try out the Bald Cypress if you have the room!

  2. joystewart September 6, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    After I wrote this post, I decided to see if I could find out more about the tree that I bought. I called Beaver Creek Nursery in Knoxville where I bought it and talked with the owner. He remembered ordering ‘Peve Minaret’ and assured me the tree was a graft and was correctly labeled, although he said he doubted that the graft was visible anymore. He also said that he has seen cases where this dwarf reached up to 20 feet high but he had never heard of any of them getting as large as the one I have. He pointed out that this cultivar was bred by the Dutch, and that it is not uncommon for a plant bred in Europe to behave totally different when planted in the U.S. Still he was quite surprised. In thinking more about it, we do have a large goldfish pond, and we clean out the filter once a month. The dirty water from cleaning the filter sponges gets dumped on assorted nearby plants, including ‘Peve Minaret.’ None of the other plants have gone growth crazy, but I guess it does show that Bald Cypress can be fertilized into an exceptional growth rate.

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