The bald cypress, also known as swamp cypress, is an extremely long-lived deciduous species native to wetlands, river, creeks and streams throughout the American South. Characteristics include conical root extensions rising up from the root system surrounding the parent tree. Bald cypresses are cultivated for their aesthetic charm, but because of their need for wet soil and their competitive root systems, only species that have adapted to living in the same environment can be planted nearby.
Red Maple, Acer rubrum, can be found growing from the extreme north to the extreme south of the American East. It cannot survive in the drier states further west and needs soil that is constantly moist. It ranges from 60 to 90 feet in height when fully grown, and is most easily identified by the overall reddish tinge of its bark, branches, four-petaled flowers and leaf stems. The leaves themselves have three points and three lobes, all dull green with white hairs on the undersides. The wood is soft and used for small household items rather than construction or furniture.
Swamp tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica biflora, is best suited to be placed near or in standing water, where its buttressed trunk swells with absorbed moisture. They average 80 feet in height, with 150 feet being the tallest swamp tupelo on record. The bark is dark brown and very thick, with gray streaks running down its length. Leaves have lateral veins running away from the midline, ranging from 3 to 5 inches long and 1 to 3 inches wide. It produces blue-black fruit in the summer. Each is 0.5 inches long and oval-shaped, attracting dear, squirrels, wild turkey, robins and other small birds and mammals. This species is often mistaken for the common persimmon. It can be differentiated by the appearance of the pith or interior wood of its twigs, which have a series of chambers as opposed to a singular grain.
Sweet gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, is widely used as an ornamental tree native to the American Southeast as well as the more humid parts of Central America. This deciduous species grows from 75 to 120 feet tall on a comparatively slender trunk, the bark of which is thin, pale green and runs on a characteristic unbroken vertical grain. Branches fan out to form a dome shape, with leaves identical to that of maple trees drooping down to shade the trunk. As the name suggests, the sap of sweet gum trees has a sugary quality and has been used in ethnomedicine to cure skin disorders. The most distinguishing feature of the sweet gum is the seed case. It's an inch in diameter, hangs from the ends of new branches and is covered with sharp spines.