Taxodium distichum, commonly called bald cypress, is a long-lived, pyramidal conifer (cone-bearing tree) which grows 50-70' tall (less frequently to 125'). Although it looks like a needled evergreen (same family as redwoods) in summer, it is deciduous ("bald" as the common name suggests). It is native to southern swamps, bayous and rivers, primarily being found in coastal areas from Maryland to Texas and in the lower Mississippi River valley to as far north as the southeast corner of Missouri. In the deep South, it is a familiar sight growing directly in swampy water, often in large strands, with its branches heavily draped with Spanish moss. In cultivation, however, it grows very well in drier, upland soils. Trunks are buttressed (flared or fluted) at the base, and when growing in water, often develop distinctive, knobby root growths ("knees") which protrude above the water surface around the tree. Soft, feathery, yellowish-green foliage (1/4" long, flat needles in two ranks) turns an attractive orange/cinnamon-brown in fall. Rounded, wrinkled, 1 inch diameter, purplish-green cones mature to brown. Heavy, straight-grained, rot-resistant wood has been used for a variety of purposes including barrels, railroad ties and shingles. Closest relative is the dawn redwood (Metasequoia) which is also deciduous. State tree of Louisiana. The seeds are fresh and are from cones that were collected in the autumn of 2018.
Seeds are Stored in a Refrigerator to Maintain Viability
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Put the seeds in wet sand and put the sand and the seeds in a plastic bag.
- Put the bag in the refrigerator and store it there for 2-4 months.
- Fill a planting tray with wet sphagnum moss. Sow the seeds in the moss. Cover the seeds with a ½ inch thick layer of moss. Keep the moss moist or wet but not flooded with water. The seeds take 1-3 months to germinate.
- Fill planting containers with potting soil. Plant the seeds in the soil and cover them with a layer of soil.
- Place the containers in sunlight. Keep the soil very moist at all times but not wet. Feed the seedlings with a balanced fertilizer.
- Move the seedlings to a permanent planting location the following autumn.