Cypress Knees

All you need to know about Bald Cypress Trees (Taxodium distichum)

Have you ever wondered why they are called “Bald” Cypress trees? Well these trees are deciduous conifers and shed their needle like leaves in the fall, they get the name bald cypress because they drop their leaves so early in the fall season.  Yet the feature that bald cypresses are most know for is their knees.  The technical name for the knees is pneumatophore which means air bearing.  The pneumatophore grow from horizontal roots that are just below the surface and protrude up through the water or ground. Bald cypress trees are very well adapted to wet condition and typically live alongside riverbanks and swamps.  Since these trees grown in swampy conditions it is thought that the knee’s functions is to transport air to the drowned roots underground.

Fun Facts:

  • These trees can grow up to 120ft tall with a trunk that is 3 to 6 feet in diameter.
  • They are very slow growing trees and reach up to 600 years old.
  • Bald cypress trees are a native southeastern species.
  • The seeds are eaten by wild turkey, wood ducks, evening grosbeak, water birds, and squirrels, the rest of the seeds are dispersed by floodwaters.
  • The state tree of Louisiana is a Bald cypress.
  • These trees are valued for their rot-resistant heartwood.
This is a typical habitat for Bald cypress trees.

This is a typical habitat for Bald cypress trees.

In the photo above the Pneumatophores "knees" are shown coming up out of the water.

In the photo above the Pneumatophores "knees" are shown coming up out of the water.