Cypress Tree Guide: 14 Species, Facts, Bald (Surprising Symbolism)

Close up of a deep green cypress tree branch and cypress tree leaf and needles surrounded by a green oval frame.

Did you know that the bald cypress tree, although it’s technically an evergreen, can lose its leaves in the fall?

It’s true! And weirdly, these trees feature strange protrusions, where their roots stick out from the ground!

But, don’t look for them in very cold climates. You may even be surprised to learn about the strange symbolism of this tree!

These and other surprising things are included in this complete Cypress Tree guide.

Cypress Tree

(Cupressus Genus)

Cypress tree in oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Cupressaceae
  • Genus: Cupressus; L
  • Leaf: Cypress trees have needles for leaves but shed them in the fall
  • Bark: Brown to gray and forms long scaly, fibrous ridges on the trunk
  • Seed: Small round, about an inch in diameter. Green that turns to brown with age.
  • Blossoms: Grow in round clusters that can be up to five inches wide
  • Fruit: Round cone
  • Native Habitat: Warm-temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Europe, and North America
  • Height: 50 to 150 Feet
  • Spread: 20-50 Feet
  • Lifespan: 100-600 Years!
  • Type: Deciduous

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Near Threatened


Keep reading to learn more about this beautiful and strange tree species!

Cypress Pine Tree Varieties

The Cypress is a strange and remarkable tree that has many unique features. In fact, there are many types of cypress varieties.

Two cypress varieties are commonly found in the Southeast: bald cypress and pond cypress. Both are deciduous conifers. They shed their leaves and cones in autumn. Both varieties prefer and tolerate wet sites. Their root extensions are known as ‘knees.’ (They actually do look like the bony joints of a Marsh Wiggle!)

Bald cypress trees can live for 2-6 centuries, some towering up to 150’ in height. The pond cypress isn’t as tall as the massive bald cypress. And it has a thicker, rougher bark.

Related Reading: Magnolia Tree guide: locations, seeds and more!

This incredible tree has inspired people for centuries… and its benefit to the environment is both beautiful and wonderful.

cypress tree identification chart with lemon cypress leaves, lawson cypress flowers, slender hinokicypress tree, bald cypress seeds, and leyland cypress bark.

Cypress trees are perfect for landscapes in flooding areas and where the water is  2-4 feet deep. They also grow in less swampy areas. The root extensions associated with the cypress tree aren’t common in trees planted on drier soil, which makes them an important part of the world’s carbon offset trees strategy.

#1. Bald Cypress Tree(Swamp Cypress Tree, Florida Cypress Tree, Texas Cypress Tree) (Taxodium distichum)

A native of FL, this cypress loves swamps and lots of water. They can tower up to 70 tall and work great in gardens.

This tree is known by many names, including the regions where it is found, like Florida and Texas.

Photo of a bald cypress tree leaves and seed pod.

(Image: mxart4)

Chinese weeping cypress tree with drooping leaves.

(Image: ignartonosbg5)

#2. Chinese Weeping Cypress
(Cupressus funebris)

This ‘weeping’ variety looks graceful because its branches droop. Not as tall as others, this one is prized for its delicate needles.

#3. Californian Cypress or Gowen Cypress (Cupressus goveniana)

This is a rare type of cypress because it grows very slowly. It’s native to California and grows to a max of 160 feet!

Photo of a Cuyamaca cypress tree with cluster of gray pine cones.

(Image: Joe Blowe6)

#4. Cuyamaca Cypress (Cupressus stephensonii)

It has a unique set of blue leaves and emits a lemon-like scent when squeezed. It can grow as tall as 50 feet. Sadly, it is almost extinct after the 2003 California fires.

#5. Lemon Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)

This is the most common cypress tree used for landscape. The leaves are soft and have a distinct golden yellow color.

Long-shot of a huge Lemon Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) Tree showing green foliage and wide tree span with trees in the background.

(Image: Thibault Lefort17)

Close-up shot of an Italian cypress tree.

(Image: Hans7)

#6. Mediterranean Cypress or Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

This is considered the ‘original’ cypress. It grows up to 70 feet and has fleecy, deep green leaves.

#7. Moroccan Cypress (Cupressus atlantica)

This is a type of cypress in the Atlas Mountains of Southern Morocco. It can withstand drought and freezing points.

It is now illegal to log the Moroccan Cypress. Due to its good wood properties, it was overexploited.

An image of Moroccan Cypress Tree on a mountain top.

(Image: MPF8)

Close up of Saharan Cypress (Cupressus dupreziana) tree showing branches and green leaves.

(Image: Daderot18)

#8. Saharan Cypress
(Cupressus dupreziana)

This is native to the Sahara region making it the most drought resistant. It can grow up to 100 feet.

While it is drought resistant, it can also withstand cold temperatures up to 7C. But due to it only having a known 150 of its type in the wild, it is now considered near extinct.

#9. Nootka Cypress
(Cupressus nootkatensis)

Also known as the ‘Green Arrow’, it is abundant from Alaska up to the northern part of California. This type of cypress can live below freezing points. While it commonly grows up to 20 feet only, its shade reaches 4 feet.

Close-up shot of a Nootka Cypress tree.

(Image: Darekk29)

#10. Lawson Cypress
(Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

This is one of the tall cypresses and grows as much as 200 feet. It is also called the Port Orford cedar.

Because of its tall property and flat green leaves, this is considered the best windbreaker and can be a natural and permanent property fence.

#11. Slender Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

This originated in Japan and is also used as the main image for Shinto rites.

While this grows up to 80- feet, it also has a dwarf variant and is very cute as container plants.

Slender Hinoki Cypress with bright green flat needles.

(Image: TanteTati10)

Close up photo of an Arizona cypress tree.

(Image: Hans11)

#12. Arizona Cypress (Blue Cypress Tree)

This variety is known for its unique bluish coloring, and in fact, the “blue Ice Arizona Cypress” is a common garden favorite. It almost shimmers with its silver blue foliage and makes a great shrub for fence and borders.

Related Reading: Oak Tree Guide: Endangered Species in North America

#13. Dwarf Cypress Tree (European Cypress Tree)

Dwarf cypress trees are perfect for indoor greenery, but they need a little extra care to ensure that they flourish. Bright to mid levels of indirect light are crucial, but direct sunlight can damage these indoor types.

Close up photo of a European Cypress tree leaves.

(Image: Antranias12)

Image of Spanish Cedar Tree in white background.

#14. Leyland Cypress Tree

The Leyland cypress tree is probably the most common hedge tree used today. Its rapid growing rate (as much as 5 feet in one year) and it’s thick triangular body make it the perfect privacy fence tree.

Cool Facts About Cypress Trees and Other Names for Cypress Trees

The Bald cypress tree holds an essential role in the wild. Because they grow in wetlands and along rivers. This makes them perfect for absorbing water that can flood, as well as reducing soil erosion.

They also stop pollution from spreading. Toads, frogs, and salamanders breed well in the bald cypress swamps. Wood ducks use hollow trunks as nesting places while catfish spawn in the hollow logs submerged in the swamp. Bald eagles nest in the treetops.

Jack pines are also called cypress in Canada. Some famous cypress trees are the Giant Sequoias, located in the National Forest, while others include famous redwood trees in Japan.

Native Region and Habitat Growing Needs of Cypress Tree

The bald cypress tree is native to the southeastern United States, which includes the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Valley, and the coastal lands in mid-Atlantic states. Bald cypresses adapt well to wet conditions and thrive in swamps and along riverbanks and swamps.

Related Reading: How to plant and where to buy a Dogwood Tree

Cypress trees prefer long sunny days or at least eight daily hours. They don’t need nutrient-rich soils and grow best in moist, well-drained soils.

How To Identify a Cypress Tree

The foliage of a cypress tree is key. It resembles scales and has complex patterns of overlapping pairs on the stem. The foliage looks almost braided, like someone carefully glued it onto the tree’s twigs.

The following information provides everything you need to know about how to pick out a cypress, among the vast number of evergreens in the world.

Cypress Tree Leaves and Foliage Identification

The leaves of a Cypress are small, scaly-looking, and connected to the branch on older branchlets.

They smell good… piney and clean, from their glandular pits placed on the leaf surface, which cover the stem on opposite pairs.

Cypress tree leaf identification chart with images of Chinese Weeping Cypress Tree leaf, Pygmy Cypress leaf, Bald Cypress Tree leaf, Californian Cypress leaf, and Lemon Cypress Tree leaf in circle frames.

Related Reading: Cherry Blossom tree guide: what to know before you plant

The Cypress foliage exhibits several shades of green that go from dark green to light blue-green, which depends on the tree variety. The leaves vary from thin needles to scaly overlapping, hair-like formations similar to braids attached to twigs. (That’s right ladies!)

Cypress Tree Seeds

You can identify Cypress cones because they start out green, like most pinecones, with tightly formed sections. However, as they get older, they turn color, to grey and brown. They are rounded in shape, and about an inch in diameter, like a little basketball.

cypress tree seed pod identification chart with lemon cypress tree seeds, lawson cypress tree seeds, slender hinoki cypress tree seeds, arizona cypress tree seeds, and leyland cypress tree seeds in oval frames.

They have about thirty spirally arranged scales that bear 1-2 triangular seeds. The seed amount per cone varies from 25 to 45. The cones disintegrate when mature to release the large seeds.

Cypress Tree Bark and Cypress Tree Roots

The Cypress tree trunk is about 100 feet tall and three feet in diameter. The reddish-brown bark ages to become gray. Cypress trees native to wet soil are heavily buttressed about the base.

Their horizontal roots grow woody plates called “knees” that appear above the waterline.

Close up detail of Cypress tree roots and cypress tree trunks growing from the swamp.

(Image: Justin Wilkens13)

Scientists think that these protrusions help the tree collect oxygen, especially in very wet areas.

Cypress Tree Flowers

The flowers of the cypress tree are a shade of purple. They grow in round clusters of up to five inches wide.

Cypress Tree flowers blooming at the tips of the twigs in pale pink splendor.

(Image: Hans14)

The clusters are perched at the tips of the twigs and are replaced by cones that contain the seeds of the tree when the flowers end their bloom time and begin to wilt.

Does a Cypress Tree Produce Fruit?

Nope. The cypress tree doesn’t produce fruit.

Because the bald cypress is a gymnosperm (a plant with seeds that are unprotected by an ovary or fruit), it does not bear fruit.

How To Grow a Cypress Tree

The cypress tree is one of the several species that represent the genus Cupressus, while other varieties are part of the Cupressaceae family. Because they grow so easily, there are many cultivation forms of cypress trees, which has resulted in many varieties of color and size.

The majority of cypress varieties are popular for their ornamental charm while gracing gardens, parks, and even temple grounds, while other varieties are primarily grown for their durable timber.

5 Cypress trees growing out of moving deep water, with a white bird perched in one and greenish brown foliage on each tree.

(Image: Joshua J. Cotten15)

As redwood, these trees are naturally insect repellent.

When planted correctly and at the right location, Cypress trees are easy to grow and maintain. The trees and shrubs come in numerous sizes, shapes, textures, and colors, ornamenting all sorts of landscape designs.

Both types of cypress trees thrive near lots of water. Bald cypress does best growing near springs, in swamps, on lake banks, or in water that flows at a moderate to slow rate.

They grow well in almost any soil in cultivated surroundings. The pond cypress likes pacified water and don’t grow well on land. This variety isn’t found in home landscapes because it requires boggy soil low in oxygen and nutrients. It thrives in southeastern wetlands, one of which is the Everglades.

Growing cypress trees effectively has to do with planting them in the proper location, being exposed to full sun or partial shade, and having rich, acid soil.

  • To plant a cypress, follow the general rules for planting a tree, water the soil heavily after planting, and cover the root with four inches of organic mulch.
  • Soak the ground once a week for the first three months. Cypress trees desire water most in springtime when they go through a growth spurt, and in autumn before they go dormant in winter.
  • They can survive the occasional drought once they’re established, but it’s advised to water when a month has gone by with little or no rain. Wait 12 months after planting to fertilize a cypress tree for the first time.
  • Cypress trees growing on a lawn that is regularly fertilized won’t need fertilizer once established. Otherwise, the tree needs to be fertilized every 1-2 years and supported with a thin layer of compost in autumn.1

Folklore and Religious Significance of Cypress Tree Symbolism

Cypress trees get their name from ancient mythology.

The story is that Cyparissus, a son of Telephus, was dear to Apollo and Zephyrus when he mistakenly killed his favorite deer. Overwhelmed with grief, he turned into a cypress.

Clump of angular cypress trees growing in a hilly meadow alone with a cloudy white and blue sky and brownish grass on the ground.

(Image: Daniele Salutari16)

Whether sitting beneath the canopy of a towering tree or writing about them, the cypress tree is a universally admired subject. Human beings have always adored trees for their pragmatic applications and their deep symbolic meaning.

This ancient tree, with its massive height and far-reaching historical links to mourning and immortality, stands gracefully between both worlds and triggers human beings to wonder about the deeper meaning of the mortal experience.

Symbolism Cypress Tree

The symbolism of the cypress tree includes a darker path. The tree is ancient with the symbolism of mourning. The Romans and ancient Greeks named the cypress the “mournful tree.”

Followers of Islam and Christianity planted cypress trees near burial sites and cemeteries to protect the dead against evil spirits, and it is sacred to some devout Christians who believe the wood of the cypress tree was used for the crucifixion.

It’s hard to find a sacred symbol as universal as the cypress tree and its various associated meanings. As a vibrant reminder of life and death, the cypress tree, standing between two realities, points toward hope and immortality as a humane response to human mourning.2

Medicinal Qualities of Cypress Tree

The cypress tree’s medicinal benefits come from two sources – its cones and needles. The following medical information about cypress trees is widely accepted:

May Help Treat Fungal Infections

A popular application of cypress is as a foot bath. Placing the cones in a hot water bath results in many possible benefits when the plant’s organic compounds are released into the water and can significantly reduce the fungal and bacterial infections that affect our extremities. The cypress can reduce the sweating of feet –a primary cause of fungal infections like the Athlete’s foot. Protect your feet from fungal breakouts by soaking them in cypress foot baths, especially if you spend many hours on your feet or wear shoes for extended periods.

May Help Improve Respiratory Issues

Cypress essential oil is popular in aromatherapy treatments for respiratory issues. Even a simple brew of needles can deliver good respiratory remedies to alleviate bronchitis, asthma, chronic congestion, or inflammation of the respiratory tracts. The tea needs to be consumed sparingly so the powerful chemical components of the cypress needles should not be overused.

Might Help Improve Hair Health

The salve can stimulate healthier glands and follicle beds when it’s applied to the scalp and hair, which in turn results in richer, stronger, lustrous hair less prone to damage. The concoction also helps reduce dandruff by keeping the skin moist.

Can Help Treat Skin Conditions

Acne is a skin malady that plagues millions of people worldwide. Homeopathic remedies have presented sound solutions for this common disease over the centuries. A salve made from a mixture of needles and a carrier oil can be spread over the skin to prevent the bacterial infections that cause acne and limit the swelling and inflammation of the sebum glands that can make acne breakouts worse. acne. The salve of cypresses is widely used to speed the healing of wounds and reduce the look of blemishes and scars on the skin. 3

Can You Eat Anything From the Cypress Tree?

No trees that include “cypress” in their common name are suitable as food. It’s not even included as an emergency nutrition option in any database.

Still, no cypress varieties are listed as toxic to humans.

Related Reading: What is the amazing ‘moving’ Banyan Tree?

Industrial and Commercial of Cypress Tree

Bald cypress trees are prized for their rot-resistant heartwood and are commonly used to construct doors, cabinets, fence posts, flooring, boats, and caskets.

Fortunately, the cypress isn’t harvested much for timber because of its slow-growing characteristics. Replenishing cypress groves is difficult and takes decades. Also, most cypress trees grow in wetlands, which are difficult to log.

The by-products of cypress logging are converted into mulch. Some cypress groves need to be thinned to allow for healthier growth. These trees too may be converted to mulch instead of being wasted.

Conservation Level of Cypress Tree

The rare bald cypress is threatened by logging, development, and conversion, like many other trees, cut down each year. Bald-cypress trees live for centuries, some live up to 1000 years!

Sadly, many of the bald-cypress groves in the Southern U.S. are less than fifty years old. Once cleared for timber harvest, cypress is now used more to produce mulch and wood pellets driven by European demand.

Scientific reviews estimate that up to 80 percent of Louisiana’s cypress forests will not regenerate if logged, even if they were replanted with cypress trees. That’s attributed to the tree’s slow growth. It would take decades for a tree to reach maturity.

Where To Buy Cypress Trees

When buying cypress trees, regardless of the variety, make sure to check the plant’s hardiness zone to ensure it will survive.

Also, choose a local grower or nursery, if possible. A local grower invests his time and energies into growing plants that will flourish in your area, moreover, these people are highly knowledgeable about all sorts of plants and species!

In addition, buying local means that the carbon footprint of the cypress you’re buying is reduced. While a tree planting offset strategy can reduce it even further, doing what you can for the planet, anytime, is always a good thing.

How Much Carbon Does the Cypress Sequester?

Depending on the size and age of the tree, Cypress trees can sequester good amounts of CO2, thanks to their unique growing conditions and the fact that they store carbon for a long, long time.

You can find the exact amount using this tree carbon calculator.

(You can also learn more about how many trees offset carbon emissions here.)

The beautiful Cypress Tree reminds humans that their time on Earth is much more transient than this ancient species, and it can serve as a potent example of why protecting these miraculous species is so crucial to the plant’s health and existence.


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2National Wildlife Foundation. 2022. Bald Cypress Tree Facts. 28 March 2022. Web. <>

3Coniferous Forest. 2022. Cypress Tree Facts, Types, Identification, Diseases, Pictures. 28 March 2022. Web. <>

4mxart. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

5ignartonosbg. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

6Cupressus stephensonii cones at Cuyamaca Peak. Photo by Joe Blowe. (CC BY-SA 2.0). Resized. Flickr. Retrieved from <>

7Hans. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

8Cupressus atlantica. Photo by MPF. (CC BY-SA 3.0). Cropped, Resized. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

9Nootka Cypress. Photo by Darekk2. CC BY-SA 3.0. Cropped, Resized. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from <>

10TanteTati. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

11Hans. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

12Antranias. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

13Justin Wilkens. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

14Hans. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

15Joshua J. Cotten. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

16Daniele Salutari. Unsplash. Retrieved from <>

17Cupressus macrocarpa Hartw., 1847 Photo by Thibault Lefort. (2021, October 22) / PDM 1.0 DEED | Public Domain Mark 1.0 Universal. Resized and changed file format. Flickr. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <>

18Cupressus dupreziana – Lyman Plant House, Smith College – DSC04375 Photo by Daderot. (2012, December 20) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Cropped, resized, and changed file format. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved February 26, 2024, from <,_Smith_College_-_DSC04375.JPG>

19Featured Image and Species Information Image: Branch of the cypress close up view. Photo by Aleksey Boev. (2018, November 23) / Unsplash License. Cropped and remixed text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved March 31, 2022 and October 13, 2022, from <>