City foresters from Lincoln, Nebraska to Paducah, Kentucky to British Columbia agree with Godson’s assessment of baldcypress—and the tree’s wide range of hardiness (Zone 3 to 11) is one of its many fine qualities.
The Society of Municipal Arborists (SMA) has chosen baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) as the Urban Tree of the Year. The Urban Tree of the Year must be adaptable to a variety of harsh urban conditions and have strong ornamental traits. The contest has been running for twelve years, and past winners include Kentucky coffeetree (2006), ‘Chanticleer’ flowering pear (2005), and ‘Autumn Blaze’ red maple (2004).
Sarasota County, Florida Forester David Godson says, “Baldcypress provides four seasons of interest, excellent wind resistance, wildlife habitat and food, and is relatively litter- and pest-free. It has, thus far, shown to be fairly benign to hardscape infrastructure compared to other species in similar growing conditions.”
Eric Berg, Community Forest Program Leader for the Kansas Forest Service, says that baldcypress is one of his long-time favorites. “A tree that is native to swampland yet survives and thrives on the high plains deserves some recognition in my book. Honestly, ‘tree of merit’ is an understatement with baldcypress given its adaptability, unique structure, and rooting characteristics. What other tree can you group around a small-acreage pond yet also utilize in a windbreak or screening planting along a sandy upland site?”
Of course, there is no one perfect tree for every situation, and baldcypress has its limitations. It should be given adequate space to grow: with proper tree care, it can be expected to mature at approximately 70 feet tall and 25 feet wide.
Title: SMA names Tree of the Year
Issue: LOL - January 02, 2007