Ajuntament de Barcelona

Taxodium distichum

Mossèn Cinto Verdaguer Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Xiprer dels pantans
    Spanish name: 
    Ciprés de los pantanos
    English name: 
    Bald cypress
    Observations: 

    L’estat de conservació d’aquesta espècie segons la Unió Internacional per a la Conservació de la Natura (UICN) és poc preocupant.

    Species characteristics
    Family: 
    Taxodiàcies
    Origin: 
    Southeastern United States
    Habitat: 
    Swamp and stagnant water banks
    Characteristics: 

    Deciduous tree 25-40 m tall, occasionally it can reach 44 m, with straight columnar thick trunk (2-3 m in diameter, occasionally up to 4 m), sometimes ramified like a chandelier, and a very wide base with buttress, especially at swampy areas. The crown is symetrical and pyramid. The thick fibrous or flaky bark is reddish dun and have long vertical not very deep cracks; it comes off into strips. The roots are pneumatophores, roots rising vertically from the ground and the water to breath, which are typical of plants living at flooded terrains; in the case of the bald cypress, they can reach 1.7 m tall.

    The leaves are lanceolate, acute but not sharp, flat, thin and long (1-2 cm long and 0.1-0.2 cm wide). They have a smooth and flexible consistency and are spirally placed in two lateral rowson the stem. The fact that they are deciduous explains the colour variation matching the season: light green in spring, yellowish in summer, ochre in autumn and reddish brown in winter, before falling.

    The flowers are monoecious (the masculine ones and the feminine ones are separated but on the same tree) and grouped into reddish green hanging almost globose cones, 2-3.5 cm in diameter, which are compound of 20-30 woody nail-shaped scales, containing one or two (occasionally three) triangular seeds 0.5-1 cm long every one. The masculine cones appear into long hanging dense panicles (10-12 cm), whereas the feminine ones are solitary.

    Flowering time: 
    March-April
    Fruiting time: 
    Autumn-winter
    Uses and properties: 

    Bald Cypress wood, with a dark red colour and of good quality, is very appropiate for light construction since it's easy to work, light and resine-free.

    It's used as a decoration tree in ponds such as the one in Park of the Ciutadella in Barcelona.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Taxodium distichum, consists of the genus name Taxodium, coming from the Latin taxus, “yew tree”, and the Greek εἶδος, “similar to”, with reference to the leaves, and the Latin term distichum, “arranged in two lines”, alluding the leaves.

    The bald cypress, one of the few deciduous conifers and the only one that lives as inside the water as in drier terrains, was introduced into Europe in 1637 by John Tradescant the Young when he came back from his first travel to Virginia. Although the species is considered native from the Southeaster United States (it is Louisiana emblem tree and the symbol of the Southern United States swamps), a recent discovery could show that 8 millions of years ago the Taxodium distichum also lived in Europe: in July 2007, in a lignite mine near Bükkábrány (Hungary), it was found a group of Miocene trees the wood of which was not fossilized.

    The tallest known bald cypress is 44 m, located near Williamsburg (Virginia); the thickest one’s trunk has a diameter of 5.21 m and can be found at the Cat Island National Wildlife Refuge, near Baton Rouge (Louisiana).

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996

    http://www.asturnatura.com

    http://www.rhs.org.uk