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Swamp Cypress Taxodium distichum (Taxodiaceae) HEIGHT to 35m. Deciduous conifer, conical at first, becoming broader and domed with maturity. When growing in or near water, fluted trunk is surrounded by emergent ‘breathing roots’ (likened by some to knobbly knees) characteristic of this species. BARK Pale reddish-brown, peeling in thin fibrous strips. BRANCHES Upright or spreading in older trees, carrying 2 types of shoots: long shoots bear spirally arranged leaves, and alternate side-shoots bear flattened leaves set in 2 ranks. LEAVES Alternate, up to 2cm long, and pale green; a greyish band on the underside has a fine midrib. A mature tree colours well in autumn before shedding its needles. REPRODUCTIVE PARTS Male cones produced in slender, branching clusters up to 15cm long at end of 1-year-old shoots. Female cones are globose and woody, on short stalks, ripening purplish-brown in first year. Each scale has a small curved spine in the centre. STATUS AND DISTRIBUTION Native of S and SE USA, planted here for ornament.
- © PAUL STERRY/Nature Photographers
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