The Chinese Swamp Cypress is a coniferous tree that is a relative of the American Bald Cypress. Like the Bald Cypress, it has an enlarged, buttressed base and it grows in wetlands. It is native to Asia from southeastern China to northern Vietnam and Laos. It is a narrow, pyramidal conifer that has fine-textured foliage and ovate cones. Hardy in zones 7-11. Grows best in wet soils. Likes full sun and light shade. It is a is a deciduous needled conifer in the bald cypress family that typically matures to 60-90’ tall featuring gray bark and a conical to columnar crown. It is native to flooded or waterlogged soils along river banks, ponds and in swamps, often growing in standing water to 24” deep in moist, subtropical to tropical areas in southeastern China (Fujian to Yunnan), northern Vietnam and northern Loa PDR (Laos). Although formerly widespread in China and Vietnam, this tree is now rare in the wild. Although very similar in appearance to bald cypress trees in the closely related Taxodium genus, Chinese swamp cypress primarily differs from Taxodium by having trimorphic leaves (Taxodium are dimorphic), elongated scales (Taxodium are rounded) and slightly longer cone stalks. When grown in water, both produce knee-like roots (pneumatophores) which protrude above the water. Leaves on outer sterile branches are flat and linear. Leaves on cone-bearing branches are lanceolate to needle-like. Male cones are clusters of tassels while the small 1-inch female cones grow erect and are pear shaped. Foliage turns deep reddish-brown in fall. Best planted in wet places. Traditional uses have included erosion control or river bank stabilization.
Growing Instructions for the Chinese Swamp Cypress
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. 1. Put the seeds in wet sand and put the sand and the seeds in a plastic bag. 2. Put the bag in the refrigerator and store it there for 3 months. 3. 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. 3. Fill planting containers with potting soil. Plant the seeds in the soil and cover them with a layer of soil. 4. Place the containers in sunlight. Keep the soil very moist at all times but not wet. Feed the seedlings with a balanced fertilizer. 5. Move the seedlings to a permanent planting location the following autumn.