Bald Cypress Tree

A Quick Guide to the Bald Cypress Tree

Voted the Urban Tree of the Year in 2007 by the arborist magazine City Trees, the bald cypress tree could very well be one of the most popular trees of the coniferous variety for many reasons.

A truly wonderful landscaping choice, the bald cypress is actually a deciduous conifer.  It grows commonly in the Everglades of Florida, where swampy conditions prevail.  Low lying properties with inadequate drainage often have difficulty as a hospitable environment for woody plants, but these are the very conditions that the bald cypress finds to be ideal.  Although it does extremely well in wet areas, it is easily adaptable to dry conditions, as well.  For this reason, the tree has been acclimated to city conditions in the northern locations of the United States. 

Longevity is an attribute of the bald cypress that many people may never recognize.  This is because the tree is known to live for hundreds of years; long outliving the very people who planted it.  It is surprisingly fast growing, which is an unusual trait for a tree with a long life span.  Potential growth can be up to 2” per year when the ideal growing conditions exists.  Both are characteristics that have gleaned the tree the popularity of a street tree; used widely in street, park and common area landscaping. 

The tree is not only popular for the long life span, but also for its beauty. In the spring, lovely soft green leaves appear in the guise of the familiar needles of evergreens; the conifer characteristic of the bald cypress tree.  Female flowers that had formed in early spring now begin to form conical shapes in which seeds will develop over the season.  An overall pyramid shape forms the tree, with lower branches beginning a few feet from the base of the trunk.   The soft hue of the leaves deepen as summer progresses, developing into a rich green before the cool weather of fall prompts the leaves to turn coppery.  True to its deciduous nature, the tree drops its leaves in late fall as it prepares to winter over.

Bald cypress is a versatile landscaping tool, adaptable to many different situations.  While it provides great visual appearance when allowed to grow to its full potential as a tree, it is also a smart choice when used as a hedge.  Clipped back, a lovely screen can be enjoyed from the dense foliage of the tree; effectively converting it into a formal hedge.  Hedging the bald cypress can keep it at a manageable height; allowed to attain full growth, the tree will eventually reach up to 100 feet in height.

The best locations for planting bald cypress are in wet areas, although drier conditions will also support the tree with adequate watering.  Zones four through nine on the USDA Hardiness Zone Map see the best results with this tree.  Those who live within these zones can easily incorporate one of these popular trees into their landscape since it is highly adaptable to many conditions, including soil differences.  With few pests that afflict the bald cypress, little other maintenance aside from watering will be needed.  Light pruning may be required over the years as branches die away or become damaged.  As with most trees, the bald cypress tree achieves the greatest growth and appearance in areas receiving full sun exposure.  In yards, this will be double reward for the homeowner, as the airy foliage provides ample shade opportunities against the hot summer sun.

A tree that fits in both the deciduous and coniferous categories of woody plants, the bald cypress can easily be considered for both city and private homes as a popular landscaping choice.



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