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Bald cypress

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Bald Cypress
Cypresses.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species
Bald cypress.JPG

The Bald Cypress is a common tree found in the swamps of the south-eastern United States. It is under the family Cupressaceae and the genus Taxodium. A much more common name for the Bald Cypress is the Swamp Cypress. The Bald Cypress was assigned to be state tree of Louisiana, USA in 1963, and is considered by most people to represent southern swamps.

Anatomy

The "Knee," of a Bald Cypress

The Bald Cypress is a large tree, normally around 90 feet tall, but it has been known to grow over 130 feet tall. Its trunk has an average size of nine to ten feet wide. It is part of the family Cupressaceae, which is what gives it it's large size considering that the members of Cupressaceae are the largest trees in the world. It is different from most other Cypress' because it looses it's leaves in the winter (deciduous). This is how the Bald Cypress got it's name.

A distinct feature is known to exist only to the Bald Cypress. If it is growing in a swampy area or along the bank of a river it will grow "cypress knees." These are stump like projections of wood jutting up from the water five to ten feet away from the tree. The main purpose of the knees are for the exchange of gases. They also help for stabilizing the tree in loose dirt.

Reproduction

Seeds of a Bald Cypress

The Bald Cypress produce purple flowers in clusters from three to six inches long. The flowers are followed by cones.

When cones are first produced on the tree, they are a green, but they turn a greyish brown as they mature. Instead of having pockets on the sides of the cones to hold the seeds, the cones of a Bald Cypress dissolve, and drop the seeds. The seeds themselves are special because they are five to ten millimeters long, which is the longest of any species in the Cypress family. The seeds are also buoyant, which allows them not to be drowned when first dropped.

Ecology

Habitat range of T. distichum

The Bald Cypress is found primarily in the swamps of the southeast USA. It is found from Delaware Bay, south to anywhere in Florida, into southern Texas. They are limited in their habitat not because they cannot survive in harsher conditions, but because of their seeds. In icy conditions, the seeds die quickly, so the trees are not able to reproduce.

When talking about lumber, the Bald Cypress is know as "The Wood Eternal" because it has extreme toughness when dealing with water or is in contact with dirt. It used for water tanks, silos, boats, shingles, greenhouse frames, kitchen drainboards and coffins, and those are just a few of the uses. The only thing that can really deteriorate a is heart-rot fungus. But even then the wood is still valued for its ability as a home decor paneling.

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