How to Recognize Me
Bald cypress is a large, slow-growing but long-lived, deciduous conifer that can live 1,000 years. Its trunk is massive – 3 to 6 feet in diameter – tapered and buttressed. The leaves are alternate, linear and flat with blades generally spreading around the twig. They turn bronze in Autumn.
It develops a taproot as well as horizontal roots that lie just below the surface and extend 20 to 50 feet before bending down. It develops knees that grow above water providing additional support. Bald cypress will produce vigorous sprouts from the stumps of both young and old trees following disturbance.
I Am Special to My Watershed
Swamps of bald cypress reduce damage from floods and act as sediment and pollutant traps as they cause floodwaters to spread out, slow down and infiltrate the soil. The tree has potential for rehabilitating margins of surface- mined lakes. Cypress domes can serve as tertiary sewage treatment facilities for improving water quality and recharging groundwater. This water tolerant tree species used for shading and canopy closure in mosquito control programs.
I Am Special to Wildlife
Cypress domes provide unique watering places for a variety of birds and mammals and breeding sites for frogs, toads, salamanders and other reptiles. Its tops provide nesting sites for bald eagles, ospreys, herons and egrets. Bald cypress trees produce cone fruit, and there are approximately 5,200 seeds per pound. Seeds are eaten by wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak, squirrels, waterfowl and wading birds. The bark is thin and fibrous with an interwoven pattern of narrow flat ridges and narrow furrows. Its thin bark offers little protection against fire and during years of drought when swamps are dry, fire kills great numbers of cypress.