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Friday, November 21, 2014

Taxodium distichum - Bald Cypress

The bald cypress is a large deciduous tree with a narrow pyramid-shaped crown, 50' or so in cultivation (much larger in wet soils, and with knees). Resembles Metasequoia but not as symetrical with lateral branches going in more than one direction. One of a few deciduous conifers. Uncommonly planted in Santa Cruz but there are lots on one condo landscape in Capitola.

Great orangish brown fall color.

Generally deciduous, linear (needle-like) shaped leaves, 1/2- 3/4" long, light green, sprially arranged but appearing 2 ranked on laterlal shoots. Side shoots are called deciduous branchlets and fall as a unit, they appear to be a single pinnately compound leaf.

Deciduous branchlets are alternately arranged but can be subopposite, differing from Metasequoia being strongly opposite, and the branchlets seem to point more forward on this species. Stems green on deciduous branchlets, brown on others, below you can see the main branch going left to right. The laterals, looking like compound leaves, are green.

Cones are composed of peltate scales forming a woody, brown sphere with rough surfaces, 3/4 to 1" in diameter, differing from Metasequoia by not having the "lips". They break apart when mature.

Trunks develop into a widened buttress with fibrous peeling bark. Trees are native to areas with standing water, some times called Swamp Cypress. To survive flooded conditions, they develop upright extensions from the roots called knees. They allow the plants to get oxygen to the roots. These are located in North Carolina.

These are at a homeowners association in the lawn, and the mowers keep hitting the tops. 

Without a doubt you will think its a Metasequoia glyptostroboides, but the branchets are alternate not opposite. You might encounter another Taxodium but not likely.

On Frederick in the lawn area the Capitola Knolls Condos (private property) there are 5-6 trees pretty close to the road.

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