Swamp Cyprus

Taxodium distichumIn

The Swamp Cypress was named before other redwoods were even discovered and at the time incorrectly called a cypress. In actual fact they are both redwoods. More confusingly the timber is called cypress whereas the timber of real cypresses is called white cedar. It is all very odd. To complete this mix up the Swamp Cypress produces pneumatophores, or “knees”, rather like mangroves. These are a kind of aerial root that grow up out of the stagnant water where the tree usually lives and were believed to take in oxygen. It is now thought they do no such thing. Nobody seems to know what these structures, which look like ant hills, do. They can be seen in specimens in Bushy Park, growing up by the water’s edge in the Waterhouse Plantation. There are examples of the Dawn Redwood and Swamp Cypress at the eastern corner of the Ladies Pond.

The Swamp Cypresses grow out of water in swamps from Florida to Delaware and along the banks of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. They are often seen in films covered in Spanish moss.