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Publication #ENH-777

Taxodium ascendens: Pondcypress1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson2


Similar to baldcypress in that the trunk is perfectly straight 50 to 60 feet tall, pondcypress has a narrower crown, is smaller, and has a more open habit. It is found along the edges of streams and around the edge of swampy ground where water is standing; whereas baldcypress is usually found along stream banks. The bright green, awl-shaped leaves are arranged in an upright row formation along the branches when young, giving a somewhat stiffer and more upright appearance than baldcypress. The leaves turn an attractive light brown in fall before dropping but the bare branches and light brown, ridged bark provide much landscape interest during the winter. The trunk grows unusually thick toward the base, even on young trees. This is thought to provide support for the tree in its wet habitat. The small seeds are used by some birds and squirrels.

Figure 1. 

Middle-aged Taxodium ascendens: pondcypress


Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

General Information

Scientific name: Taxodium ascendens
Pronunciation: tack-SO-dee-um uh-SEN-denz
Common name(s): Pondcypress
Family: Taxodiaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 5B through 9B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: sidewalk cutout (tree pit); tree lawn 3-4 feet wide; tree lawn 4-6 feet wide; tree lawn > 6 ft wide; street without sidewalk; specimen; reclamation; parking lot island < 100 sq ft; parking lot island 100-200 sq ft; parking lot island > 200 sq ft
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Height: 50 to 60 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: pyramidal, upright/erect, columnar
Crown density: open
Growth rate: fast
Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: alternate (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: awl-like
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: deciduous
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: copper
Fall characteristic: showy

Figure 3. 


[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]


Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: round, oval, cone
Fruit length: .5 to 1 inch, 1 to 3 inches
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: resistant
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: thin
Wood specific gravity: unknown


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; slightly alkaline; acidic; extended flooding; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: moderate


Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: yes
Outstanding tree: yes
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: resistant to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Although often seen at water's edge where it will develop "knees", or root projections, that will extend above the water for gas exchange, pondcypress can also be grown in dry locations and could make an attractive street tree for a very narrow space. Cypress knees do not generally form on these drier sites. The "knees" do not form as readily as on baldcypress, even on wet sites. It provides a good vertical accent to the landscape and should be used more often in urban areas. The roots do not appear to lift sidewalks and curbs as readily as some other species. Its delicate foliage affords light, dappled shade, and the heartwood is quite strong and resistant to rot. However, most lumber available at lumber yards today is sapwood and is not resistant to rot.

Pondcypress is ideal for wet locations, such as its native habitat of stream banks and mucky soils, but the trees will also grow quite well on almost any soil, including clay, silt, and sand, except alkaline soils with a pH above 7.5. Its drought-avoidance mechanism allows it to drop leaves in extended dry periods but little harm appears to come to the tree. Pondcypress is relatively maintenance-free, requiring pruning only to remove dead wood and unwanted lower branches which persist on the tree. It maintains a desirably straight trunk without pruning and does not form double or multiple leaders as do many large trees.

The cultivar 'Prairie Sentinel' is narrower than the species.

Propagation is by seed.


No diseases are serious.

Twig blight is caused by a weak pathogen and is usually present on dead or dying tissue. When the tree is stressed the fungus can kill branch tips. Dead tips can be pruned off. Do not let dead or diseased branches remain on the tree. Keep trees healthy with regular fertilization.



This document is ENH-777, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at


Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; and Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.