Pond Cypress vs Bald Cypress in north Texas

bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)March 7, 2013

We're considering a narrow crown cypress for a lawn on the north side of Dallas (Blackland Prairies). Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) seems to do well here in irrigated lawn space, so have been looking into the Shawnee Brave hybrid. Pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) is another option I've read can be used here, but don't recall seeing any in the area.

Does anyone have any experience with the pros and cons of using either of these in this region? Thanks!

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Every bald cypress I've seen has gone into summer dormancy with the heat;
turns brown & dries out & drops needles.

Howard Garrett or somebody recommends Montezuma Cypress for north central Texas; you might research that.

Best luck!

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 10:26AM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

My bald cypress do not do that, they stay green until after the first frost. The biggest complaint, and it is a rather LARGE one, are the knees that spread and pop up quite a distance from the tree inself. I know nothing about the other cypress. I am in North Texas.......hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 11:26AM
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texasflip(Nacogdoches, TX z8)

I always see people recommending the central Texas variety of baldcypress which supposedly are less prone to making knees. I would think they are probably more adapted to conditions in north Texas too, but just a guess.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:11PM
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ExoticRGVNativesTy(10a TX)

I've seen both the Pond and Bald Cypress used in the Dallas area, with the Bald Cypress by far being the most commonly used. Bald Cypresses seem to perform well during the summer in parks and along roads. The only Pond Cypresses I know of were near a pond.

Many of the Montezuma Cypresses I've seen are not as pyramidal in shape as the Bald or Pond Cypress, with the main trunk forming a v some distance above the ground. Consequently, I don't know how well it would fit into your space when mature. This is the species I grow, but so far mine are small.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 12:13PM
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carrie751(z7/8 TX)

I might also add that mine are NOT by a pond. I have five on my property, all planted by me about 19 years ago. They vary in size, but one is probably 25 to 30 feet tall. These are my husbands favorites and I must admit, I did not know they would make so many knees if they were not located by a body of water.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 4:08PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Central Texas BCs are less prone to forming knees compared to eastern ones. There are HUGE BCs at Krause Spring in Spicewood. Their roots look more lava flows over bedrock by the river/creek/pond.

MC can look very nice if you know where to get it. (Stephen F Austin spring plant sale might have them on 4-20-2013; check for plant list as it gets close to the date). They had MC-BC "T 406" hybrids for sale last fall which would retain BC shape while retaining MC's semi-evergreen and fast growth. I've collected cones off this big MC at SFASU for the past few years and I can say they turn out to be very nice looking seedlings after a few years. Ty is correct that MC generally do not have straight dominant central leader so my suggestion is to go to SFA plant sale on 4-20 if they offer them.

Here is a link that might be useful: MC-BC hybrids

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:32PM
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Gretchen Wood

We have a few pond cypress and yes they love water. Mine are not near any ponds but I do water them often. I have three in the front near the street and they are very tall!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 1:54PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

I have 3 BC-MC hybrids and one MC grown from seed that I collected from SFASU MC. All are growing now. SFA MC already grew about 4 inches. They start leafing out in late February and stay green into January when they start to turn color so you get 'winter' fall color. Pretty short dormant season. Fast growth for sure.

There is a huge MC at Dallas Arboretum if you want to check it out.

Just wanted to let you know that there is another cypress that seems pretty cool tree to have.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2013 at 6:19PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Thanks for all the inputs. Did notice as many Montezuma as Bald Cypress while visiting a couple nurseries in Austin this week. Would consider the semi-evergreen MC, but agree with Ty that it would get too broad for the available space.

Glad to see chlorosis has not been mentioned as an issue in north Texas - especially for Pond Cypress which is reported to be a bit more susceptible than Bald Cypress. Surprised to hear that knees can be a problem with BC even in drier areas since most growers seem to claim this is not the case. Not a killer issue in our situation, but would be an advantage of PC which has no (few?) knees.

I'm currently favoring BC because it seems a bit more robust for this part of the state. Unfortunately the narrow crown cultivar Shawnee Brave/Michelson was developed well north of our region. While they are sold as close as Oklahoma, I've not heard of anyone growing one around DFW; though surely it's been tried since being introduced in the mid-1970s.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 3:15PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Don't be afraid to try Montezuma Cypress. It is just simply a faster growing semi evergreen version of Bald cypress plus no knees. Like I said, go to SFA plant sale and get MC-BC hybrid if they offer it. Best of both world...

Or wait till fall and I give you SFA seedlings...

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 5:47PM
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ilovemyroses(8 Dallas TX)

Please know that bald cypress, correct me if I'm wrong, are NOT drought tolerant plants. Some knuckle headed city person planted them all around IH 75 in central Dallas (near NW Hy) and they died or looked horrible all our blazing summer! What wasted money and effort. These are seen natively beside lakes and rivers.

Just so you don't look at what the city planners did and think they were on to something!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 7:11PM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

@lou_midlothian_tx: The only reason for not considering the Montezuma Cypress is apparent lack of a cultivar with a spread of 25' or less. Same reason I don't think a standard western BC will work. The MC/BC hybrids that SFA is working with look promising, but doesn't seem like they have much info published yet on mature crown sizes. Interesting stuff and was surprised that most of the cross breeding is being done in China. I've included a link to a brochure on the effort with brief description of four of the hybrids.

@ilovemyroses: You're right - that's one of several fried street/highway cypress plantings I've been made aware of in the area. I was speaking relatively, may be better said that BC seems to be a bit less drought sensitive than PC. What I mentioned observing in our neighborhood is that, once established, BC lawn trees appear to be able to make it on the weekly deep waterings required to keep the St Augustine alive. Planted where there is not similar irrigation, they do not perform as drought tolerant trees.

Here is a link that might be useful: Breeding of the Montezuma Hybrid

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 1:37AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Regarding bald cypress along 75 expressway...

It looks more like poor management.

Also possible wrong seed source. Central Texas BC is more alkaline tolerant and maybe more drought hardy.

I'm linking to a website about it (scroll down to where it talked about BC at 75. There's a picture of them with landscape fabric and not much mulch. Drip Irrigation look to be used improperly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Poor management on BC

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:24AM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Another problem that I had to deal with - bagworms. It seemed to be really bad during 2010 and 2011. No idea how it was last year because I moved to central Texas starting all over with Montezuma and hybrid cypress trees.

It's quite scary how aggressive bagworms can be if you do nothing. They will literally turn BC into "bald" cypress after few weeks...

    Bookmark   March 11, 2013 at 11:31AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

@lou_midlothian_tx: I took a casual look into the work you introduced that SFA is doing with Cypress hybrids. A theory mentioned on at least one of the related websites is that the differences between central Texas Bald Cypress and those further east (alkaline tolerance, fewer knees, etc) can be explained by natural (and ancient) cross-breeding in the Bald/Montezuma border region... Texas BC have more MC-like characteristics. Interesting stuff - thanks for mentioning it.

Webworms/bagworms show up in the local fruitless mulberry and pecans every few years. Imagine they'd be in the BC too if there were any planted nearby. Fortunately we seem to have predators (birds, wasps, fire ants,...?) that take care of them if the bags are torn open with a pole saw early enough.

What I've learned is that I'm looking for Texas BC or BC/MC hybrid with a mature crown spread of ~25ft or less... in other words, a cultivar that does not yet exist. Though photos of a mature Nanjing Beauty hybrid in China show a pretty narrow spread that MBG specs at 20-30ft. The space is tight, but may be able to adjust location if I can remove a large stump to get an additional 5ft or so - besides, any eventual crowding is unlikely to become an issue during my lifetime :-) Losing the early fall color seems like a fair trade for better alkaline tolerance, no risk of knees in the lawn, and faster growth rate. Thanks again for all the advice on this.

Here is a link that might be useful: Taxodium 'Zhongshansa' NANJING BEAUTY

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 12:40PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

@bostedo - Did you know that there is a fairly large Nanjing Beauty at Dallas Arboretum by the cafe? Somewhere over 30 ft. It is a fast grower for sure.

There is a huge MC over there as well by fish pond in Lay Ornamental Garden. I emailed them asking for the age of that MC and I was shocked to find out that it's rather young. Must be the water from the fish pond that the roots found their way into...

There is a very nice looking Bald cypress in Midlothian that seemed to cause confusion at first. A lot thought it must be MC but acts more like BC as it leafs out and drops needles like BC. I didn't find any knees. I sent some seeds to SFA and Dr. Creech mentioned that the size of seeds are in the middle between MC and BC. Who knows where that tree came from but it is a very nice looking tree.


SFA MC Seedling before we moved last summer -

NB at Dallas Arboretum -

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 5:46PM
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lou_midlothian_tx(z8 DFW, Tx)

Oh, I should mention that SFA MC seedling in the ground is the SAME age as the ones in the white bag container. Pretty big difference.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2013 at 6:07PM
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