Bald Cypress

Taxodium distichum

Southern Cypress, Swamp Cypress

About This Plant

Sun, part shade; deciduous, with good copper or yellow fall color. A very tall tree, eventually flat-topped. This is the common bald cypress of Southern swamps, Hill Country rivers, and the San Antonio Riverwalk. There are distinct Central and East Texas varieties; Central Texas natives lack the distinctive “knees” of their Eastern cousins. (Cypress knees are believed to help oxygen reach roots submerged in swamp muck; as this isn’t much of an issue in the Hill Country, local trees generally grow without knees). Still, both varieties prefer moist soil or a location within 15 feet of water. In an appropriate location, bald cypress grows swiftly to impressive size. For drier upland sites, use Montezuma cypress instead.

Origins: Central Texas and Southeastern U.S.


Plan on pruning in winter every five years, and spot pruning as needed during the growing season. Pruning cuts should only be made at a bud or branch, and mostly just to remove dead, damaged, or rubbing branches. As with any tree, remove no more than 25% of the canopy during any five-year cycle. Leave the upper 2/3 of the tree’s crown uncut to maintain a healthy specimen, never removing more than the lowest third of the tree in a single pruning period. Mulch with about 2” of woodchips or pine bark wherever possible. In general, a tree’s mulched area should be a minimum of six feet.

The classic swamp cypress: plant it near water.

Min. Height: 50'

Max Height: 70 feet'

Min. Width: 20'

Max Width: 30 feet'

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