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Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Bald Cypress Summer Bald Cypress Fall Bald Cypress is typically a Coastal Plains tree of the Southeast US found in swamps and along the edges of water bodies. It can also be found in drier habitats and is used as an ornamental tree in a variety of landscapes. Younger trees are pyramidal in shape and may grow up to 150 ft in height. The bases of older trees are usually buttressed. At one time, the largest tree in the Eastern US was a Bald Cypress in Weakley County known as the "Tennessee Titan." It was 175 ft tall, 13 ft in diameter, and estimated to be 1350 years old before it was struck by lightening in 1976.

Bald Cypress 'Knees' Bald Cypress Cones Bald Cypress is a deciduous gymnosperm - its green needle-like leaves occur in two ranks and turn orange to cinnamon-brown in the autumn before being shed. The globe-shaped, green female cones (0.5-1 inch in diameter) have a wrinkled surface composed of approximately 12 non-overlapping scales. At maturity, the cones turn brown and disintegrate to release the seeds.

A unique feature of Bald Cypress is the development of cypress knees, which are outgrowths from the root system that grow upward around the trees on wet sites. Although the function of these knees is unknown, it has been postulated that they facilitate gas exchange in the low oxygen environment of wetland habitats and/or provide support for the shallow-rooted trees. At the Arboretum a number of Bald Cypress trees have been planted in the Marsh Area, along Scarborough Creek, and on the hill across from the Program Shelter. The highly decay-resistant wood is used in the construction of docks, bridges, and buildings, as well as for such purposes as fence posts, boat planking, and caskets.

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University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
901 South Illinois Avenue, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37830 · Telephone: 865-483-3571 · Email: UTforest@utk.edu