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Common Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)

Some cities are experimenting with the common baldcypress as a street tree. (See photo below). The common baldcypress tolerates poorly drained soils, and will even grow in standing water, but it also does well on well-drained soils. It can grow as far north as zone 4. Many people fear that this tree will produce the large "knees" or surface roots, but should take note that the tree does not produce knees except in saturated soils or near standing water.

Baldcypress prefers soils with pH less than 6.5. Iron chlorosis can occur in soils with netrual or alkaline pH. These trees are very resistant to soil compaction. The trees are also fairly resistant to insect and disease problems, and cultivars like "Shawnee Brave" are especially resistant to mites. "Shawnee Brave" is a narrower form of the tree that could be used in street plantings. the tree has a narrow pyramidal habit in youth, but will become flat-topped and "picturesque" in old age according to Dirr.

The tree produces soft green needles which turn darker green in summer and russet in fall. These trees look like evergreens, but loose their leaves in winter, this has been known to prompt calls to cities by concerned citizens fearing for the health of the trees.

The City of Cincinnati has experimented with baldcypress as street trees (see photo). Growth rate has exceeded expextations, and in many sites this tree will grow much faster than forestry literature indicates. Taxodium disticum had very high ratings in Auburn University Tests (Journal of Arboriculture 21(3) (1995).


Baldcypress, Winter Habit. Cincinnati, Ohio.

Taxodium distichum 'Prairie Sentinal'
Source Page:
University of Missouri.


Shade Tree Home Page
T. Davis Sydnor, Ph. D. and Nick E. D'Amato
Urban Forestry Department
School of Natural Resources
The Ohio State University
2021 Coffey Road,
Columbus OH 43210
(614) 292-3865