In Iowa, we have a large variety of trees, native and non-native. One such non-native species is the Bald Cyprus tree which can grow to be 50 feet tall. It is a popular ornamental tree, grown for its light feathery foliage. The spring foliage is a bright yellow-green becoming sage green in summer. It is a deciduous tree and ends the season with rich, russet-brown leaves which fall attached to 2-3 inch long shoots. Most members of its family Cupressaceae do not lose leaves, hence the name “Bald” Cypress for this variety.
Although it grows best in warm climates, the natural northern limit of the species is not due to a lack of cold tolerance, but to specific reproductive requirements. Farther north, regeneration is prevented by ice damage to seedlings. Larger trees are able to tolerate much lower temperatures and lower humidities.
Bald Cypress can grow in both uplands and bottomlands but is more often found in wetter sites such as swamps, marshes and river bottoms where common hardwoods cannot survive. At the Arboretum, the Arnold Webster memorial tree can be found where it has a moist footing. To locate it, take the walking path to just past the creek, and turn left (north)