By Ginny Rosenkranz
The Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is an interesting native tree that looks like it should be an evergreen, but in the late fall of the year the slender green needles turn a soft cinnamon orange/brown color then fall completely off the tree, leaving it “bald.”
This long lived conifer lives as far south as Florida, and as far west as Texas and grow very well in Maryland.
It is one of the few trees that can live in the swamps and rivers, but can also grow beautifully on dry land.
The tree trunks flare out at the base and if they grow in the water, the trees will also develop distinctive knobby root growths that are called “knees’”that grow in slender pyramids above the water.
Whether growing in water or growing above ground, the trees can reach as much as 50-75 feet tall by 20-30 feet wide, so they will need room to grow!
The bright yellow green leaves emerge early in the spring to mature into a soft sage green and are sometimes described as resembling feathers.
The fibrous bark looks lovely in the winter with its attractive reddish brown color, and the small rounded cones start out green to purple then mature to brown.
Although these beautiful trees do not make a good evergreen holiday tree, they add so much color and texture to the landscape throughout the year.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)