Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bald Cypress in The Woodlands

Cypress trees are found here on ponds, creek beds and lowlands. I have planted many on the pond near our home in The Woodlands, Texas. Talk about slow growing! Talk about living to be old! They can be 800+ years old. These trees do their best in wet but fertile soil as one would expect. The soil on the banks of the nearby pond is not very nutrient rich. In fact is is heavy clay. Our 8 year tree has been pruned several times, not by us but by people who do not appreciate what it takes to grow one of these. We have one in our backyard that is doing very well and is turning into a fruit bearing tree this year after about 7 years of growth from a small sapling. It must now be about 12 feet tall.  Notice the low hanging branches. These often provide protection for deer and other creatures during the day in the forest. It also provides shade for fish in the water. The knees grow in water and land. Is is speculated that they enable the plant to get oxygen when the roots are submerged, but I have my doubts that anything of that sort is important to the tree. I suspect it has something else to do with survival in the water. 

Viewing the fruit, one is led to believe that this might be edible. Wrong! The tree is a conifer.  These little balls turn into a plated cone, like a pine tree and sends seeds into the air for sprouting new trees. Right now the fruit is very pretty on the tree. This happens to be our maturing Cypress of about 12 feet.

Another interesting characteristic of this tree is its shedding of leaves. It does this in the late fall and dry summer. That seems to protect it from severe weather. It sprouts new leaves when the rains come and turns green again. It is not hardy when it comes to fire. Several of the ones I planted were exposed to fire and did nto come back. Some did, leafing out from the roots but not the burned trunks.

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