"Top 20 Shade Trees" for San Antonio!
Custom Plant Information by Wilson Landscape Nursery & Florist- Helotes, Texas
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"Top 20" #9
Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)
You have come to a great tree in your search! We at Wilson's hope that you find this plant information to be helpful and interesting. Let us know if we can help you further as you search for that special tree. Our information is based upon decades of loving trees, learning about trees, growing trees, maintaining trees, talking about trees, selling trees. planting trees, watching trees grow, enjoying the beauty of trees and being grateful to God for creating trees!
“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” “And God saw that it was good.” (Genesis 2:9; 1:12)
Strengths and Weaknesses Listed
All of our plant information sheets will eventually include a section on weaknesses instead of just strengths. All trees have weaknesses and strengths. In order to thoroughly evaluate a tree, you should consider both. Let me begin by offering some strengths of Bald Cypress and then I will describe some weaknesses. You will be happy to discover that this trees strengths overcome its weaknesses! In fact, from our viewpoint, Bald Cypress makes the “Top-Ten” list coming in at #9. But perhaps, it will become your number #1 choice.
Strength: A Majestic Native
Bald Cypress is one of our most majestic trees. When you see it growing in its native environment, along our rivers and streams, it is an awesome site to see. I have always been impressed with the Bald Cypress trees growing along the Frio river in Garner State Park and Concan. The Guadalupe and Medina rivers also have beautiful Bald Cypress along their banks. These trees get huge and look impressive. They grow down into San Antonio and south following the path of our major rivers and some lesser creeks. When you jump to deep South Texas, along the Rio Grande and down into Mexico, the Bald Cypress becomes a differently recognized species called Montezuma Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum). Montezuma Cypress is a close cousin and looks very much like our native Bald Cypress. We will discuss some differences of the two later. Montezuma Cypress is appreciated in Mexico and is, in fact, considered the national tree of Mexico.
Bald Cypress in Texas and the Southeast U.S.
Bald Cypress are common along waterways throughout the Southeast USA and throughout East Texas. Caddo Lake State Park has some pristine swamps where Bald Cypress thrive. I have always enjoyed driving the long Atchafalaya Bridge in Louisiana, as it passes over the Henderson swamp, and seeing the Bald Cypress trees growing in the water.
Strength: Gigantic Size
This is one of our largest trees. As has been mentioned, you can see huge trees along our Hill Country rivers. In fact, the record setting largest tree of any kind in Texas is actually a Bald Cypress located in Real County!
Strength: Gives Back What You Give It
The Bald Cypress is a great, majestic and beautiful tree for those who water their yards regularly. It is a good choice for people with automatic sprinkler systems. The more water and soil you give it, the more it gives back to you in the way of lush foliage and large size. This would be a good tree for an aerobic sprinkler system where the spray rotors are placed far out in the yard. For Hill Country aerobic systems, choose a site away from the septic tanks but within reach of a rotor spray. Add some top-soil in the area where you will plant. Make sure the tree gets enough water, at first, if your aerobic system does not come on daily. Many nice neighborhoods with aerobic systems could be punctuated with majestic Bald Cypresses! Consistency is the key. When homes sell or when residents are away for long periods of time, so that the aerobic system is not coming on regularly, trees could die in the interim.
Strength: Long Lived
You will never have to worry about your Bald Cypress dying of old age. Trees in well-watered areas reach 600 years and some individual trees have reached 1,200 years old.
Strength: Pyramidal Shape When Young
Bald Cypress has a pretty pyramidal or Christmas tree like shape when young. It is a conifer, after all, though one that loses its leaves in winter.
Strength: Pretty Fall Foliage
It's a pretty site to see rows of Bald Cypress lining our Hill Country rivers in the fall creating a corridor of festive rusty-red around Thanksgiving and into December.
Weaknesses of Bald Cypress
All trees have weaknesses and strengths. In order to thoroughly evaluate a tree, you should consider both. You will be happy to discover that this trees strengths overcome its weaknesses!
Risk of Injury or Death From Severe Drought
I have been surprised to see how drought tolerant Bald Cypress really are. They may lose some leaves during significant droughts but put new leaves back on when rains return. However, if the drought is severe and prolonged, Bald Cypress may die on the upper portions or worse. This is true in only the worst-case- scenario droughts.
Not For People Who Do Not Water
As was mentioned above, Bald Cypress gives back what you give it in terms of water and soil. However, the reverse is also true. I have seen Bald Cypresses that do not look healthy that are always struggling under dry conditions. Trees like this often are only sparsely foliated in comparison with those that get regular water. There are better choices if drought tolerance is a requirement for you.
Interesting Facts About Bald Cypress
Bald Cypress gets the name “Bald” because it tends to drop its leaves early in the fall season in some parts of the country but not so much here. These trees are not true Cypresses like the Monterey Cypress of California and others. These trees are actually related to the giant Redwoods and Sequoias of California.
Differences in Bald Cypress
I have noticed differences in Bald Cypress, depending upon which region of the country they grow. The Bald Cypress of East Texas and across the Southeast U.S. have limbs that are angled slightly upward. The Hill Country and San Antonio area Bald Cypress have limbs that are horizontal to slanted slightly downward. Montezuma Cypress of deep South Texas have limbs that are horizontal with a downward slant which gives the tree more of a weeping effect. Montezuma Cypress tends to be shorter and more stout with more limbs and foliage growing lower on the tree. Montezuma does not have the “knees” or root projections of our U.S. natives which gives these trees stability in flooded areas and also helps in oxygenating the root system
Trees Available at Wilson's
At Wilson's most of our Bald Cypresses have been grown from seeds gathered along the Medina river near Medina, Texas. These trees are most adapted to our climate and conditions, although Bald Cypresses of other regions grow fine here as well. Our trees blend the best attributes of all three regions. In a side by side comparison, I think our native Bald Cypresses have a prettier growth habit than the Montezuma Cypress. Others feel that the Eastern Bald Cypress provides a prettier pyramidal growth habit than does our San Antonio area native. All three regional trees are beautiful if given enough water.
A Blessing For You
We hope that this plant information helps you as you search for that perfect tree. Whichever tree you choose, may it bring you many years of beauty and peace.
May you and your tree be “like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:3)
At Wilson's Tree Nursery and Garden Center we carry an impressive selection of bald cypress. we collect our seeds from the hill country and grow all of our bald cypress ourselves from babies up yo adulthood. We carry the largest bald cypress per pot available anywhere! We have sizes ranging from 5 gallons all the way up to beautiful 30 gallon giants. We specialize in tree growing, and we only grown native and well adapted Texas trees, so you can be sure they will flourish. Best of all, we are plant experts and would love to answer any and all questions and concerns you may have about your specific tree needs. Our knowledge is something that is hard to find. Come on in or give us a call today!
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