Another easy-to-recognize tree
I receive so many questions about tree identification that I've decided to write a few articles about some of the most common and easiest-to-recognize species.
The photo above shows a baldcypress in January. After you have gained a little practice in looking at trees and identifying them, you would not mistake this tree silhouette for anything but baldcypress (Taxodium distichum). Distinguishing features in winter include:
- The very strong, very straight trunk
- A lack of major side branches
- Narrow, conical or columnar shape; much taller than it is wide
- A few reddish, needle-like leaves still clinging to the branches.
This baldcypress is growing in a location that is higher and dryer than we might expect to see. Although baldcypress does well at water's edge, it will also grow in dryer circumstances when it receives plenty of light and enough moisture. This tree was purchased and planted here, I'm sure, rather than growing from a seed.
When this tree becomes mature, its top will become flatter and it will probably develop a few larger side branches. However, it will still be a fairly narrow tree. Baldcypress may exceed 100 feet in height in ideal conditions, and its spread will typically be about 1/3 of its height.
The photo at left gives a closer look at the trunk of a baldcypress. Here you will find a few more clues to identification:
- Bark often has reddish-brown tones. (Baldcypress is a member of the redwood family).
- Bark peels (exfoliates) vertically in narrow shreds
- Reddish, dried leaves lying under the tree. (When in doubt always look for a leaf!)
- Also look for baldcypress fruit on the ground or still on the branches -- hard wooden cones about the size of a ping-pong ball or smaller and covered with largish scales.