Taxodium ascendens, pondcypress
Damp and rainy days may be unpleasant for us but many trees thrive in a soggy environment, especially members of the Baldcypress family, Taxodiaceae. Despite their common names, these conifers are not true cypress trees. They are deciduous; their needles turn brown each fall and drop. A fresh new set of feathery soft, green needles will appear the next spring.
Taxodium distichum is native as far north as our Zone 6. Taxodium ascendens, also known as the pondcypress, is native to the extreme southeastern U.S. Both love wet and poorly drained sites in full sun, and will thrive here on Haverford College’s campus.
Taxodium ascendens is narrower than T. distichum, reaching up to 70 tall in our area and 10 to 15 feet wide. Its branchlets grow more upright and its bark is a light brown rather than the reddish brown of T. distichum. When it grows in permanently wet areas it tends to not form the raised roots or “knees” that are a unique characteristic of T. distichum.
The fruit on both is a nearly round cone up to 1-inch in diameter that starts out green, then turns brown and splits apart by the fall.
The college’s Arboretum staff recently added two cultivars of pondcypress to our tree collection. In recognition of the men’s cross-country team NCAA Division III championship, the Arboretum and the Athletic Department honored team members with a T. ascendens ‘Prairie Sentinel’ and ground plaque just outside the track at Walton Field.
Several cultivars of ‘Prairie Sentinel’ and ‘Debonair’ have been planted in the meadow above the Duck Pond, joining other mature pondcypresses along the roadside fence where they can easily be compared to the large baldcypress just inside the fence.
Originally posted at: http://www.haverford.edu/news/stories/54351/16