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Where Would You Go to Find a Bald Cypress?

cypress trees in a field
Cypress trees at the volleyball courts are at home in this location.
Photo courtesy of Bill Willis

By Bill Willis

May 25, 2017

Cypress is a type of tree called a conifer that loses all its leaves during the fall like the deciduous oaks and maples. Whereas most pines and cedars only shed some of their needles, the Cypress leaves turn brown then drop, thus the term “bald”.

Cypress trees have another distinctive feature: “knees” that pop up from the ground at the base of the tree. These help with oxygen movement to the root systems under saturated soil conditions

These trees can be found from the Gulf States up the Atlantic Coast through the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia. Cypress trees can easily reach over 125 feet in height and 6 feet in diameter. Cypress trees have existed since the Mesozoic area, when dinosaurs roamed the land, and can live to be at least 100 years old.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Cypress trees stands with knees
On campus, small stands with knees can be seen in the swampy area near the ball field and volleyball courts.
Photo courtesy of Bill Willis
Cypress Trees along road
Other trees without knees but with female seed balls/cones are located between North Parking Lot and Upper Lakeview Drive near the bus stop.
Photo courtesy of Bill Willis

The Bald Cypress swamps are among the most productive ecosystems, serving as homes to snakes, turtles, lizards, frogs and a variety of other animals and plants

The usefulness of the wood has made harvesting them an industry in the South. Cypress trees lumber is used for construction timber, fence posts and pilings, caskets, and shingles.

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