Friday, August 7, 2009

Taxodium ascendens

We grow several different, and quite a few of each, Taxodiums. Taxodium ascendens is more commonly known as Pondcypress or Pond Baldcypress and if you've traveled to Florida, these are where Cypress Knees come from. This one is called ascendens because the needles really do grow straight up, giving it a very different look from Taxodium distichum, sometimes called Common Baldcypress.
They can grow on dry (not dry really, just not in a pond) or in a damp, boggy place. They live happily in zones 5 to 9, maybe even in zone 4. They are tall trees, eventually, probably 75 feet, but are rather slow growers. The one I took the photo of is about 10 years old and is maybe 15 feet tall. More moisture equals faster growth, though, even up to 2 feet a year in optimal conditions.
The leaves/needles are bright green, turning to a coppery color in the fall before they fall. They have a 'soft' look about them, not the usual stiff look of trees with needles. The deciduous conifers are interesting, but I will still like those that hold their needles better since they provide a color other than brown during the winter months. These are native from Virginia to Florida and Alabama, on more upland areas - around ponds rather than in them. Our largest one grows at the edge of our bog, so it gets plenty of water without sitting in it and seems quite happy with the arrangement.
There are 2 named cultivars, in addition to the species, that I know of, 'Nutans' and 'Prairie Sentinel'. I see neither the species or cultivars in nursery centers so they probably are best acquired by mail order. They are probably better known in the south than up here in Yankee Land, so they might be more readily available there. Highly recommended.
Nice day coming up with lots of weeding and pruning on the schedule after I pick beans.

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