Bald Cypress – Taxodium distichum

Bald Cypress cones
Bald Cypress cones

Come away, come away, death.
 And in sad cypress let me be laid;
Fly away, fly away, breath;
   I am slain by a fair cruel maid.

 

Shakespeare

Twelfth Night; or, What You Will
Act II, Scene VI

 

This native of coastal swamps of the eastern sea-board of North America can be found along streams, beside ponds and in swamps from Delaware south through Texas and as far north as southern Illinois. This tree is a conifer, but unlike other conifers it loses its needlelike leaves every fall. In fact that is why it is called Bald!

 

The wood of this tree is so resistant to rot that in many swampy places from New Jersey through the southeast prehistoric wood has been unearthed and found in still useable condition. This wood is highly prized for making wood carvings, among other things. Early colonists were shown by the Native Americans to hallow out the trunks for making durable canoes, washtubs, and troughs. The freshly harvested wood is used in building construction, fence posts, planking (in boats), river pilings, doors, flooring, shingles, caskets and cabinetry.

 

The woody scent is often favored by men in perfumery, and used in aftershaves and deodorants. In aromatherapy it blends well with Benzoin, bergamot, cardamom, cedarwood, chamomile roman, clary sage, eucalyptus (all), frankincense, geranium, juniper, labdanum, lavender, lemon, lime, mandarin, marjoram, orange, pine, ravensara, rosemary, sandalwood, and tea tree.

 

The cones produce a very sticky resin which is used in the treatment of skin conditions. It is an astringent and balances oily skin and works well on acne. A salve made from the resin is used on rashes and wounds for healing.

 

A symbol of the southern swamp, the Bald Cypress was designated the state tree in Louisiana in 1963.

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