The Gymnosperm Database


Foliage on a tree at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC [C.J. Earle, 2004.10].


The big tree at Cat Island, Louisiana [©Vladimir Dinets 2012].


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Conservation status

Taxodium distichum var. distichum

Common names

Bald-cypress, southern-cypress (Watson 1993).

Taxonomic notes



Trees to 50 m tall and 400 cm dbh. "Bark usually dark reddish brown to light brown with shallow furrows. Branchlets mostly with leaves in 2 ranks, pendent to horizontally spreading. Leaves mostly narrowly linear, ca. 5-17 mm, laterally divergent, free portion contracted and twisted basally. 2n= 22 (Watson 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia at 0-500 m elevation in brownwater rivers, lake margins, and swamps, occasionally in slightly brackish water (Watson 1993).

Big tree

The official "big tree" has a dbh of 521 cm, height of 25 m and crown spread of 26 m, located on Cat Island, LA (American Forests 2000).

The tallest known specimen is in Carter's Grove, Williamsburg, Virginia; it is 44.11 m tall (Rucker 2003).


A crossdated age of 1622 years for specimen BCK69 from NC collected by Stahle, Cleaveland, and Hehr (Brown 1996). This is from a living tree, collected in the 1980's, and I visited it in 1987. The tree is in an area that has seen many hurricanes and all trees in the area have lost their tops repeatedly; as a consequence, the tree is hollow. It would be hard to estimate a total age for the tree, but it must certainly exceed 2,000 years and possibly 3,000.






American Forests 2000. The National Register of Big Trees 2000. Washington, DC: American Forests. The big tree register is now available online.

See also

Farjon (2005).

Last Modified 2017-12-29