Common name: Bald cypress, swamp cypress
Taxodium distichum is a deciduous conifer native to the southeastern US. Visitors are fascinated by its 'knees', outgrowths of its roots which may aerate and/or stabilize the tree. Its needles turn a dark orange in the autumn. The botanic name comes from the Latin word Taxus meaning yew, and the epithet means 'two ranks' referring to the needle arrangement.
In 1985, extensive remains of a fossil forest of dawn redwood and bald cypress 45 million years old were discovered in the Arctic, an insight into global climate change in the past. In 2012, the remains of an ancient underwater forest were discovered off the coast of Alabama.
They are some of the longest-living trees on earth, with some specimens still alive after 2600 years.
2023: Several of our bald cypress have a drooping leader, but, according to curatorial staff, unless there are other signs of the tree not being healthy, this is not a concern. Several of our bald cypresses lost their leaders in the 2006/7 winter storm and not a single one died as a result. A new branch just becomes the secondary leader.
Fall colour photo and 'knees' photos by Hughie Jones, except:
Knee photo encircling trunk by Lyn Anderson