Baldcypress - Urban Tree of the Year

Picked the Most Popular City Tree to Plant

baldcypress trees
Bald cypress in Trap Pond State Park, Delaware. (Kej605/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Testimony after testimony from urban foresters and park administrators support the up and coming bald cypress or Taxodium distichum as the latest trend in selecting the best landscaping tree for many locations. Lawns, parks and street right-of-ways are growing baldcypress in profusion.

Common baldcypress is an evergreen but acts deciduous as it drops its twiggy leaves in the fall. You can call it a "deciduous" conifer.

The rich green color of the needles turn to "copper" orange then to brown and makes for one of autumn's best colors just before twig and needle fall.

Careful When Wet

In wet soil conditions, the bald cypress will form sections of root growing above ground to gather oxygen. These knobby "cypress knees" can occur 10' to 15' beyond the spread of the plant. Cypress knees do not generally form on drier sites.

On the Street

Cities from Charlotte, NC, Dallas, TX to Tampa, FL currently use it as a street tree and it should be used more extensively throughout its range in urban landscapes according to most landscape professionals. Baldcypress can be clipped into a formal hedge, creating a wonderful soft screen or hedge.

Art Plotnik, The Uban Tree Book, says "as a street tree, the baldcypress is getting rave recommendations and increasing use. Tree professionals of New Orleans, Charlotte, Tampa and Dallas are among others that put it on the streets." Ralph Sievert, Minneapolis MN Urban Forester who is respected as the “Johnny Appleseed” of baldcypress, recommends it highly in his state and outside of the southern United States.

Growth

Bald cypress trees grow best when they have their own space and can potentially grow up to 2 feet per year. Bald cypress require sun (at least 1/2 day). They make a great screen when planted in groups and can be planted within 15 feet of a house.