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Taxodium distichum

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES CUPRESSACEAE

Scientific Name: Taxodium distichum
Species Authority: (L.) Rich.
Common Name(s):
English Bald Cypress
Synonym(s):
Cupressus disticha L.
Taxonomic Notes: This species was formerly included under the family Taxodiaceae which is now merged with Cupressaceae (see Farjon 2005). Two varieties are recognized: the typical variety and var. imbricarium (Nutt.) Sarg.. This latter variety is sometimes referred to as a species, but only differing in the branchlets and leaves instead of spreading in a distichous arrangement being more or less upright and appressed. Intermediates are found occasionally (hybrids?) as well as some variation on a single tree.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-04-27
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Stritch, L. & Thomas, P.
Justification:
Taxodium distichum is still widespread and abundant and is therefore assessed as Least Concern. Both varieties are also assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Recorded from the southeastern USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, S Texas and Virginia. Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium is found on the Coastal Plain from Virginia to eastern Texas, generally not as far inland as T. distichum var. distichum.

Countries:
Native:
United States (Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population trend is stable.
Population Trend: Stable

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Taxodium distichum is a winter deciduous tall tree dominant in lowland river flood plains and swamps, mostly below 30 m but up to 530 m a.s.l., where it can form extensive forests of nearly pure stands on (seasonally) inundated fluvial sediment. The two varieties are largely sympatric, but var. imbricarium seems to avoid riparian habitat and to prefer stagnant pools and swamps. In permanently wet habitat with anaerobic soil conditions this species develops characteristic 'knees', which grow upwards from shallow roots, often at a considerable distance from the stem. The most commonly associated trees are Nyssa aquatica and N. sylvatica var. biflora, which form with Taxodium distichum a distinct vegetation type. Other common associated angiosperm trees are Acer rubrum in the northern part of the range of T. distichum, and Magnolia grandiflora in the southern States; Pinus spp., Fraxinus spp., Quercus spp., Liquidambar styraciflua, and shrubs e.g. Ilex spp., and Viburnum spp., are also often present. Especially in the southern States all trees are festooned with a trailing bromelioid epiphyte: Tillandsia usneoides. Flooding is frequent or sometimes nearly permanent with water levels up to 3 m deep; in riparian habitat silt is deposited annually. Away from rivers, clay, muck, or peat are common and in soils with a high organic content trees grow slower and stay smaller. Salinity above ca. 1% will cause trees to die, so the species avoids areas flooded by seawater. The climate varies greatly along the extensive range, with dry and cold winters in the interior along the middle section of the Mississippi River and a subtropical, warm and humid climate in S Florida.
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The wood of Taxodium distichum is soft, straight-grained and extremely rot resistant and therefore widely used in construction and building of houses, boats, river pilings and sidings, as well as shingles, flooring, garden furniture, greenhouses, cooperage, fencing and other uses for which durability is desirable. Outside its natural range it is widely used as an ornamental tree and it has been introduced as early as 1640 in England. It is currently being planted on a large scale as an amenity tree in China. Only a limited number of cultivars has been selected; this species is almost uniformly planted with either of the two varieties here recognized. Planted on the shores of lakes and ponds, this tree often develops 1 m tall 'knees' from its root system along the water's edge, adding to the interest of this species. It grows well on higher ground away from water, where 'knees' will not develop. In its native riparian habitat it is increasingly recognized as a keystone species in swamp forest ecosystems providing both food and nesting opportunities for rare birds and other wildlife and as a natural regulator of floods.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no substantial threats to this species at this time.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is represented in several protected areas within its range.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Taxodium distichum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 21 October 2014.
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