Taxodiaceae (taxodium family) Taxodium

Taxodium distichum bald cypress

Southeastern United States

Related to the redwood, but deciduous, the bald cypress puts on a new coat of light green feathery leaves in spring. By autumn it produces cones re- sembling those of a redwood, except that they fall apart as they release their seeds. When the leaves fall they fall in complete sprays. The wood is soft and light and resistant to termites and dampness, as is redwood, and it is definitely not a cypress. Bald cypress is famous for its ability to live in swamps, which it does by raising pneumatophores from its roots to form “knees,” presumably to breathe. For stability, it also develops buttresses.

A specimen, now gone, grew on the east side of the Angel of Grief (northeast of the Mausoleum) but it did not have knees or buttresses, which of course would be unnecessary to it in that situation. The University of California at Berkeley has specimens, several of which are along Strawberry Creek, southwest of the Eucalyptus Grove.

Name derivation: Taxodium – Greek word taxus (yew) and eidos (resembling), referring to the similar leaf shapes; distichum – two-ranked (the needles).

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.