(Taxodiaceae Taxodium distichum)
Adopted in 1963.
Half of Louisiana is timbered with an
abundance of varied and beautiful trees,
but no action was taken to designate a
state tree until 1963 when the bald
cypress, Taxodiaceae Taxodium
distichum, was made the official
tree of Louisiana. The cypress grows in
many areas of the state, particularly
the swampy areas.
Its shape depends greatly on the
amount and duration of flooding in the
area, and varies from columnar to
conical or bottle shaped. The bark is
reddish-brown, fibrous, thin, and
divided into small, flat ridges and
shallow furrows. Leaves of the cypress
tree spread in flat planes in a feathery
pattern on its branchlets.
Baldcypress is a deciduous
conifer that grows on saturated and
seasonally inundated soils of the
Southeastern and Gulf Coastal Plains.
Two varieties share essentially the same
natural range. Variety nutans,
commonly called pondcypress, cypress, or
black-cypress, grows in shallow ponds
and wet areas westward only to
southeastern Louisiana. It does not
usually grow in river or stream swamps.
Variety distichum, commonly
called baldcypress, cypress, southern
-cypress, swamp-cypress, red-cypress,
yellow-cypress, white-cypress, tidewater
red-cypress, or gulf-cypress, is more
widespread and typical of the species.
Its range extends westward into Texas
and northward into Illinois and Indiana.
Pond cypress is less likely than
baldcypress to have knees, and its knees
are shorter and more rounded. Its fluted
base tends to have rounded rather than
sharp ridges and its bark usually is
more coarsely ridged (24). Its
branchlets are more ascending than those
of baldcypress (44), but unfortunately
it was given the varietal name nutans
(nodding) from observation of a
cultivated variation having drooping
branches (43). Typical specimens of
pondcypress have nearly scale like
leaves, which are appressed along the
twig in several ranks. Seedlings and
fast-growing shoots of pondcypress,
however, often have disichous
(two-ranked) leaves much like typical
baldcypress foliage (39). Despite the
usual differences in appearance between
the two varieties, not all specimens are
typical, and it is often difficult and
sometimes impossible to distinguish them
Leaf: Linear and small, 1/4 to
3/4 inch long, green to yellow-green,
generally appearing two-ranked. When
growing on deciduous branchlets the
leaf-deciduous branchlet structure
resembles a feathery pinnately (or
bi-pinnately) compound leaf.
Flower: Males in drooping long
panicles. Females are subglobose,
peltate scales, and tend to occur near
the end of branches.
Fruit: Cones are composed of
peltate scales forming a woody, brown
sphere with rough surfaces, 3/4 to 1
inch in diameter. Cones disintegrate
into irregular-shaped seeds.
Twig: May be deciduous or not.
Non-deciduous twigs are slender,
alternate, brown, rough, with round buds
near the end of the twig. Deciduous
twigs are two-ranked, resembling
pinnately compound leaves.
Bark: Fibrous, red-brown but
may be gray where exposed to the
weather. Old, thick bark may appear
||Plantae -- Plants
||Spermatophyta – Seed
||Coniferophyta – Conifers
||Taxodiaceae – Redwood
||Taxodium L.C. Rich. –
Taxodium distichum (L.) L.C.
Rich. – bald cypress
Dendrology at Virginia Tech
U.S. Department of Agriculture