Taxodium distichum

Common Baldcypress




  • native to southeastern United States primarily
  • cold hardy in zone 5, perhaps warmer zone 4
  • generally found in wet swampy areas, often in standing water

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous conifer
  • grows 50' to 70' tall
  • pyramidal to conical, especially when young
  • some older trees develop spreading, irregular, or almost flat-topped forms
  • develops a buttressed trunk base
  • root "knees" can form on older trees in wet sites
  • branching more or less horizontal
  • texture is medium-fine and airy

Summer Foliage

  • leaves are deciduous
  • stems are either persistent or deciduous
  • persistent stems hold spirally-arranged needles and deciduous stems
  • deciduous stems hold needles in 2-rankes and lack buds
  • needle leaves are flattened, 0.33" to 0.75" long
  • foliage emerges bright yellow-green and matures to a soft green
  • leaves emerge late in the spring

Autumn Foliage

  • fall color is usually quite attractive
  • needles turn a warm, reddish brown color


  • monoecious
  • make flowers in pendulous 4" to 5" clusters
  • female flowers are cones
  • bloom time is March and April


  • globe-shaped cones
  • change from green to brown
  • 0.5" to 1" diameter


  • attractive
  • reddish brown
  • vertically fibrous and fissured
  • exfoliates little


  • full sun
  • tolerant of permanently wet soils, but also tolerant of normal soils as long as they are not excessively dry
  • prefers acidic soils
  • relatively care-free
  • transplant from container or B&B
  • very tolerant of strong winds

Landscape Use

  • as a lawn tree
  • for shade
  • for decoration
  • useful is wet sites
  • works well at pond edges
  • shows well in groupings or groves
  • airy foliage texture useful


  • a number of diseases and insects can attack weakened trees
  • typically trouble free
  • perhaps spider mites pose the greatest threat in Connecticut

ID Features

  • spiral leaf arrangement on most stems
  • compare to Metasequoia glyptostroboides which has opposite leaf arrangement
  • slender twigs with raised leaf scars
  • "knees" on plants in wet sites
  • buttressed trunks
  • reddish brown bark
  • airy foliage
  • deciduous conifer
  • conical habit


  • by seed
  • by cuttings for cultivars


'Fastigiata' - This selected form maintains a more narrow, columnar habit than the species.

'Monarch of Illinois' - A newer selection, this selection is most notable for its wide-spreading habit, to 90' tall with a spread of 70'. The width of this form is unusual, given the pyramidal-columnar habit of the species. It may, however, express higher susceptibility to mites than other new selections, such as 'Shawnee Brave'.

'Pendens' - Occasionally offered by specialty nurseries, this old form differs mainly in its drooping branch tips. The overall form is pyramidal, with horizontal primary limbs.

'Shawnee Brave' - The narrow, fastigiate form of this plant makes it useful as a street tree. It grows to 80' tall and only 20' wide, with high quality green foliage that is mite resistant.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.