Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is also known as Gulf cypress, red cypress, Southern cypress, swamp cypress, white cypress and yellow cypress. Bald cypress is the state tree of Louisiana and has a lifespan of 500 years. Bald cypress is not for every space. The tree is low maintenance but needs plenty of room.
Bald cypress reaches a maximum height of 100 to 150 feet. Trees used in landscaping are more usually 60 to 80 feet tall and 25 to 35 feet wide, and it takes 25 years or more to reach 50 feet. Left alone the tree will reach the maximum height, but it is more likely to happen in the wild.
The shape of the bald cypress is a pyramid when young, becoming open with a spreading crown as the tree matures at a moderately fast rate.
Bald cypress is found in nature growing in swamps and by the edges of lakes and rivers of the southern U.S. coastal plain. The tree is hardy in urban areas, standing up to the pollution and other city problems. Hardy in USDA zones 4 to 10, bald cypress is adaptable to different types of soil as long as it is well-drained. Plant the tree in full sun.
The tree features reddish bark with peeling ridges and drooping branches. Pale-green deciduous leaves become copper-red in the fall. The brown flowers are hard to spot, bloom in the spring and are followed by small cones 1 inch in diameter.
Plant bald cypress as a specimen tree on a large lawn or a shade tree in a large yard. Communities use the tree as a street tree. Trim the plant while it is young to create a formal hedge.
Bagworms make a meal out of the leaves. Mites turn the leaves brown and cause them to fall off prematurely. Twig blight attacks and kills the tips of the branches.