Bald Cypress (Distichum)

The Bald Cypress (Distichum) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the mid spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are not retained year to year. The Bald Cypress (Distichum) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a rapid growth rate. At maturity, the typical Bald Cypress (Distichum) will reach up to 130 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 45 feet.

The Bald Cypress (Distichum) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -18°F. has low tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Erosion Control: Riverine 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.

Timber: Bald cypress wood is valuable for building construction, fence posts, planking in boats, river pilings, doors, blinds, flooring, shingles, garden boxes, caskets, interior trim and cabinetry.

Wildlife: Wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak, squirrels, waterfowl and wading birds eat Bald cypress seeds. Cypress domes provide unique watering places for a variety of birds and mammals and breeding sites for frogs, toads, salamanders and other reptiles. Yellow-throated warblers forage in the Spanish moss often found hanging on the branches. Its tops provide nesting sites for bald eagles, ospreys, herons and egrets.

Site Rehabilitation: It 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.

Beautification: This species has been planted as a water tolerant tree species used for shading and canopy closure in mosquito control programs. It has been successfully planted throughout its range as an ornamental and along roadsides.

General Characteristics

Yew Family (Taxodiaceae). Bald cypress is a large, slow-growing but long-lived, deciduous conifer, which frequently reaches 100 to 120 feet in height and 3 to 6 feet in diameter. Its trunk is massive, tapered, and buttressed. The leaves are alternate, linear, and flat with blades generally spreading around the twig. The bark is thin and fibrous with an interwoven pattern of narrow flat ridges and narrow furrows. It is monoecious with its male and female flowers forming slender tassle-like structures near the edge of the branchlets. 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.

Required Growing Conditions

Bald cypress is widely distributed along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southern Delaware to southern Florida, westward along the lower Gulf Coast Plain to southeastern Texas. Inland, it grows along streams of the southeastern states and north in the Mississippi valley to southeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and southwestern Indiana.

Adaptation Bald cypress is generally restricted to very wet soils consisting of muck, clay, or fine sand where moisture is abundant and fairly permanent. It is usually found on flat or nearly flat topography at elevations less than 100 feet above sea level. Its thin bark offers little protection against fire and during years of drought when swamps are dry, fire kills great numbers of cypress.

Cultivation and Care

Either seeds or sprouts can accomplish bald cypress stands. Seeds are produced annually and good seed production occurs about every three years. Seeds are dispersed more frequently by floodwaters. Under swamp conditions, the best seed germination generally takes place on a sphagnum moss or a wet-muck seedbed. On better-drained soils, seed usually fails to germinate due to lack of surface water. Soil saturated for 1 to 3 months after seedfall is required for germination. Seedlings require light for good growth, thus control of competing vegetation is necessary.

Bald cypress will produce vigorous sprouts from the stumps of both young and old trees, following disturbance.

General Upkeep and Control

THIN6"Intermediate wheatgrass has good palatability to livestock and wildlife. Livestock and wildlife will graze it throughout the growing season, but it is most preferred as forage in spring, early summer, and fall. It will not withstand heavy continuous grazing and maintain a healthy productive stand. Stands are not as susceptible to spring and fall freezing as smooth brome, meadow brome, or orchardgrass.

Ten to twelve inches of new growth should be attained in spring before grazing is allowed on established stands. A six-inch stubble height should be maintained following each mowing and going into winter. In pasture tests, stands consistently out-yield other grass-legume mixtures. For this reason, stocking rates can be set higher than other grasses. Care should be taken to allow proper rest of 21 to 28 days between grazing periods in irrigated and high moisture situations.

When planted with a legume, harvest hay at optimum stage for the legume. This will allow the grass to be harvested prior to flowering and result in very high quality hay. Harvest pure stands for hay when plants start to flower.

Apply nitrogen as needed to maintain vigorous growth. Irrigated seedings and those in higher rainfall zones (18 inches +) will respond well to annual applications of 40 or more pounds of available nitrogen per acre during the establishment year and 70 to 90 pounds per acre each fall. A balance of nitrogen and phosphate fertilizer needs to be considered in order to maintain a legume component. A soil test is recommended.

Forage production can be restored and stands may benefit from ripping if sodbound conditions occur. Care should be taken to avoid excessive tillage because stands may be damaged.

Environmental Concerns: Intermediate is long-lived (50+ years), spreads slowly vegetatively, and very little via seed distribution. It is not considered a weedy or invasive species, but can spread into adjoining vegetative communities under ideal climatic and environmental conditions. Research indicates that most seedings do not spread from original plantings. It is known to coexist with native taxa. On favorable sites where it is best adapted, it can maintain dominance and exist as a monoculture. There is no documentation that it crosses with native species.

Seed Production Seed production of intermediate wheatgrass is generally not difficult. If fields are maintained in rows and adequate fertility levels are maintained, seed can be produced for 7 to 10 years or more. Row spacing of 36 inches dryland and 24 to 36 inches irrigated are recommended (although rhizomatous, intermediate wheatgrass should be maintained in rows). Cultivation is required to maintain rows.

Average production of 250 to 350 pounds per acre can be expected under dryland conditions. Average production of 450 to 550 pounds per acre can be expected under irrigated conditions. Seed yields drop significantly after about four years of production. Swathing, followed by combining of the cured rows, best completes harvesting. The seed heads will shatter when mature and if direct combining is desired the stand should be harvested with 15 to 20 percent moisture. This will require drying to 12 percent moisture before storing in bins and to 15 percent before storing in sacks. Seed is generally harvested in mid to late August. "

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Rapid
General Type Tree
Growth Period Spring, Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Mid Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance Low
Shade Tolerance Intermediate
Height When Mature 130
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Purple
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance Low
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Slow
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements High
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -18
Soil Depth for Roots 40
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Resprout Ability Yes
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 4.5–6 pH
Precipitation Range 40–40 inches/yr
Planting Density 300–800 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Fine, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 40
Minimum Frost-Free Days 160 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance None
CaCO3 Tolerance None
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention No
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA