Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a deciduous conifer that has needles like most other conifer trees, but loses them in the fall like most deciduous trees. This is a very large tree that grows up to 40-60 feet tall and can reach heights of 100 feet, plus. It has large pendulous branches that make the tree even more interesting. This tree has soft, short needles that are scale-like. Bald Cypress has unique cones, very different from other coniferous trees. The cones are closed, round, and green-purple when young, turning brown when mature. In the fall, the needles turn orange-brown before falling off the tree for the winter months. Bald Cypress trees also tend to have roots that pop up out of the ground, especially in locations that are very wet.
Bald Cypress is a great tree choice for large open areas of your landscape. If you have less area for this tree to spread out into, another variety to consider is 'Shawnee Brave,' which has a more uniform, narrow shape and a great fall color, according to Kim Todd, UNL Agronomy and Horticulture Professor. Another species choice, Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens), grows extremely narrow but may not be as hardy for our Nebraska climate. The hardiness zone for Pond Cypress is 5b-9b, so it should be hardy in the southern third of Nebraska, where the hardiness zone is 5b.
Bald Cypress is an adaptable tree, but prefers wet soils. Bald Cypress trees originally came from swampy locations in the United States. It can tolerate some drought, but does best in low spots in your landscape where water tends to stand for awhile. This tree cannot tolerate shade. When planting Bald Cypress trees in your landscape, make sure to allow for plenty of room as it matures, since the tree gets very large.
According to the University of Florida, Bald Cypress is a great tree for wildlife. Rabbits, geese, cranes, ducks, and other birds feed on the seeds of cypress trees, and wildlife such as deer use cypress trees for cover. The wood from cypress trees is used for furniture, wall decor, bridges, docks, caskets, mulch, and silos. However, Bald Cypress grows slowly, so the population has declined as we have cut down trees for other uses. The University of Florida also says that the resin from the cones of cypress is used as an analgesic for lesions of the skin.
Bald Cypress is an amazing large tree that would make a great addition to any landscape. An acreage is a great site as there is plenty of space for this tree to grow. The Bald Cypress is well suited for planting near a pond or lake, as it likes swampy locations.