The red cypress tree is a flowering tree found in Texas. The tree is also known as the Gulf cypress, bald cypress, Southern cypress, swamp cypress, white cypress, and yellow cypress. The red cypress is part of the redwood family. Red cypress trees are the first trees in Texas to lose their leaves during the fall, hence the nickname "bald cypress."
Red cypress trees are tall trees with a conical-shaped branch canopy. The trees grow up to 120 to 150 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Their branches are covered with thin, wispy leaves. The leaves resemble pine needles, but are soft and feathery to the touch. The tops of the leaves are light green, and the undersides are white.
The red cypress has extensive root systems that often break the soil's surface, creating "knees" of roots projecting up from the ground. The tree produces cones and flowers.
Red cypress trees are the first trees to lose their leaves every fall in Texas, and they are the last to bloom in the spring. Small buds appear on the tree after Christmas, and they do not bloom until late March or early April.
Red cypress are very hardy trees, and it's common for trees to live up to 600 years. Some specimens of red cypress have lived more than 1,200 years.
Red cypress is able to adapt to many growing conditions. It grows well in rich soil, and poor clay soil. In the wild, the red cypress is found growing along rivers, streams, and other waterways because they seem to prefer wet conditions. However, in cities and suburbs, the trees survive with moderate water and in dry conditions. Red cypress trees prefer full sun, and need at least eight hours of sunlight per day.
Red cypress trees are cold hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness zones 4 through 10. They are primarily found in Texas--where it grows wild--and in the eastern states.
The wood of the red cypress is considered a hard wood. The wood resists decay, and is used to construct sturdy structures. Red cypress is often used to make docks, boats and bridges. The Seminole indian tribe used the wood of the red cypress tree to make canoes, houses and objects for ceremonies.