Swamp Cypress tree identification 

The Swamp Cypress Taxodium distichum, a conifer native to the Gulf and south east coastal areas of the USA, was introduced to Britain in1640. In the USA it is found in low lying, waterlogged areas but it can grow well in dry conditions. Also known as the Bald Cypress.  The trees form tree islands in the Florida Everglades. In Britain it has been planted in formal gardens and parks. It is long-lived and slow growing. Male catkins hang on the tree all winter and shed pollen in April.

Swamp Cypress tree identification – deciduous conifer, leaves and shoots alternate, male catkins and small green/brown cones. It is a deciduous tree, turning red in autumn and shedding leaves by the end of the year. Its leaves can be confused with those of the Dawn Redwood but the shoots and leaves, if looked at closely, are ‘alternate’ not ‘opposite’. Also the cones are different.

Swamp Cypress in summer

Swamp Cypress in July

Swamp Cypress in autumn

Swamp Cypress in November

Swamp Cypress leaves

The leaves are arranged alternately along the shoot in two ranks. The leaves of the Dawn Redwood are opposite.

Swamp Cypress alternate shoots

The side shoots are arranged alternately along the main shoot. The side shoots of the Dawn Redwood are opposite.

Swamp Cypress male catkins

The male flowers are on catkins, shown here in May.

Swamp Cypress cones

Cones in September. Cones have many scales. Not all trees produce cones.

Swamp Cypress bark

The bark is ridged and has fine stringy threads in it.

Swamp Cypress 'knees'

Some old trees have woody growths called ‘knees’ sticking up from the ground around the tree. These are part of the root system. They could be to stabilise the tree, or to trap silt in swamps but nobody is really sure what they are for.

Tree in January

Buds in April. They are alternate, not opposite like the Dawn Redwood.

Close-up of cone in September