Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) is a large deciduous conifer characterized by the development of ‘knees’ growing upwards from the roots when located in permanently wet areas. It is native to the south-eastern part of the United States but was brought to Europe in the 17th century as one of the first New World species.
The soft wood of the tree is rot-resistant, making it particularly useful for underwater and exterior constructions, such as shipbuilding, fences, river pilings, garden furniture and housing. In Europe, the tree is mostly planted for ornamental purposes, attractive for its ‘knees’. In its natural, wet habitat, the species is ecologically important, providing food and habitat for many plant and animal species.
The bald cypress thrives in riparian habitats with freshwater. It is, however, also able to grow in areas not in close proximity to water, though growth in such locations is generally more limited. In terms of climate, the bald cypress has an extensive range, growing in continental to subtropical areas.