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Taxodium distichum


Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.

Family Name: Taxodiaceae
Common Name: Swamp Cypress, Bald Cypress, Gulf Cypress, Marsh Cypress, Pond Cypress


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Tree (Big (>30m), Medium (16m-30m)), Aquatic & Hydrophyte (Emergent Aquatic)
Lifespan (in Singapore) Perennial
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 25 m to 40 m
Tree or Palm – Trunk Diameter 2 m to 4 m


Native Distribution Eastern & Central USA
Native Habitat Terrestrial (Riverine)
Preferred Climate Zone Temperate

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Medium to large coniferous tree, reaching up to 40m height in its natural range. Crown relatively pyramidal when young, becoming more spreading with age.
Trunk Base distinctively flared when plant grows in standing water. Bark greyish to reddish-brown, peeling in long stringy strips.
Foliage Linear and needle-like, arranged in 2 ranks on opposite sides of branchlets, which unlike those of most other cypresses, are deciduous and turn rusty-red, before being shed in winter in its natural range -- thus giving rise to its common name Bald Cypress.
Others - Plant Morphology Roots: Submerged roots produce woody cone-shaped projections ("cypress knees") that rise above the water surface. "Cypress knees" thought to function as anchors in unstable soils, or as a means of respiration under challenging conditions of long-period submergence in low-oxygen waters.Cones: Species is monoecious, with scale-covered male and female cones (or strobili) found on the same tree. Seed (female) cones globular, pollinated in winter and ripen from green to greyish-brown in 12 months, before disintegrating to release 5-10mm long triangular seeds -- the largest within the Cupressaceae family. Seeds dispersed onto drier ground by receding floodwaters, as well as by cone-eating squirrels. Cone production not observed under local conditions.
Habitat Occurs in permanently-flooded swamps, alluvial wetlands, flood plains, lake edges and river banks, often forming pure colonies.
Cultivation Healthy specimens can live up to 500 years or more. Young trees exhibit rapid growth that slows down down with age. Adapted to permanantly-flooded sites, but performs well and reportedly grows more quickly in normal soils, and are relatively drought-tolerant when established -- although in nature, seedlings tend to be out-competed first by other vegetation that occur naturally at drier sites. Prefers acidic soils, and exhibits leaf-yellowing when planted in alkaline or neutral pH sites. Requires continental climates with long hot summers for good growth and viable seed production. Tolerant of coppicing, and can sprout back from trunks exploded by lightning strikes, when most other types of trees would probably perish. Propagate by cuttings, or seeds which germinate quickly in wet soils but drown if submerged underwater.
Etymology Genus epithet 'Taxodium' means resembling the Taxus (Yew) genus. Species epithet 'distichum' means '2-ranked', alluding to the foliar-needle arrangement.
Ethnobotanical Uses Food (Herb or Spice)
Others: Timber: Timber is scentless, as well as very water and rot-resistant, hence often called "wood eternal". Wood used to construct bridges, docks, boats and buildings. Highly-valued mineralized prehistoric wood mined from swamps and used for wood carvings. Bark used for cordage. Medicinal: Cone resin used as analgesic for wounds. Culture: Officially designated the state tree of Louisiana in 1963. Often regarded as the living emblem of the southern US swamps.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Landscape Uses Riverine
Thematic Landscaping Water Garden, Bioswales / Sunken Garden, Naturalistic Garden
Plant & Rootzone Preference or Tolerance Remarks Grows well too in normal dry soils, although tends to be out-competed by tree species naturally distributed at such sites. Established trees are drought-tolerant.

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water, Lots of Water
Plant Growth Rate Moderate
Rootzone Tolerance Waterlogged Soils (Drains Site), Drought Tolerant, Fertile Loamy Soils, Well-Drained Soils, Acidic (low pH) Soils
Maintenance Requirements Moderate
Potential Problems Does not tolerate alkaline or neutral pH soils, which will cause leaf chlorosis.
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 2.5 (Tree - Open Canopy)

Non - Foliar and Storage

Trunk Type (Non Palm) Woody
Mature Bark Texture Peeling / Flaking / Papery
Stem Type & Modification Woody
Root Type Underground (Tap Root, Fibrous Root), Aboveground (Buttress Root, Pneumatophore / Pencil Root)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality Unisexual Flowers , Monoecious

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Mature Fruit Colour(s) Brown, Silver / Grey

Image Repository



Master ID 1883
Species ID 3176
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 18 February 2022.