10 Most Common Places Where Cypress Trees Grow

Cypress trees growing in swamp

Naturally, cypress trees are one of nature’s most valuable trees. Furthermore – they have a plethora of uses and grow all across the United States!

Cypress trees grow throughout the wetland ecosystems of the United States, most commonly along the Southern Coastlines. They can be found along the Atlantic Coast from Delaware to Florida, along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Alabama, and even along the West Coast of California.

Cypress trees can also be found inland, normally along the Mississippi River Valley extending from Southeastern Oklahoma to Southern Illinois. Outside of the United States, cypress trees commonly grow in Asia, Chile, and Mediterranean Regions.

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What Climates Do Cypress Trees Grow In?

Cypress trees naturally occur in the depths of the deep, dark swamp lands. 

When planted, Cypress trees can adapt to a variety of soil and climate conditions, and since cypress trees can be planted in almost any soil condition, they would make the perfect addition to your yard. You don’t have to stare at them just from the swamps!

Because of their adaptability, Cypress trees have become part of nursery practices, allowing homeowners and businesses to use these beautiful, broad trees as ornamental plants.

Cypress Trees Are Common Along The Atlantic Coastal Plain

The most common place where cypress trees grow is in swamps along the Atlantic Coast anywhere from Delaware to Florida.

Along the Atlantic Coast, the most common cypress trees to grow are the pond cypress and the bald cypress. The main difference between the two is their leaves, but take a look at our article about the differences between bald and pond cypress to find out more!

Since many of the cypress trees that grow along the coast are hidden in rich, deep swamps, the trees are usually unable to be used for commercial use in today’s woodworking world.

They are more or less used for tourist attractions and are known as beautiful gems of history and nature.

Cypress Trees Require Warm Climates

However, to ensure proper growth, cypress trees require a warm, temperate climate. 

Further, this is why forests of cypress trees are commonly found in the southeastern corner of the United States.

Cypress Trees Require Wet AND Dry Climates

The reason cypress trees are found throughout wetland ecosystems around the world is because of the fluctuating water levels in these areas.

Cypress trees require standing water for at least half of the year to create those crazy, beautiful roots! (Which makes sense why they grow in swamps).

However, in order to germinate, cypress seedlings must start on dry land. As the trees mature, they adapt to continual flooding.

As a result of their ability to adapt to a variety of soil conditions, cypress trees occur in many different forms resulting in different shapes, sizes, leaves, barks, and wood characteristics.

Characteristics Of The “Tree With Knees”

Although cypress trees have needle-like leaves, which tend to be a common characteristic of coniferous trees, they are deciduous… and also coniferous.

Cypress trees lose their leaves in the fall, as any deciduous tree would, but they are also considered a conifer because of their ability to produce cones, and their needle-like leaves.

Cypress trees are evergreen that does not stay evergreen.

Cypress Trees Can Live For Thousands Of Years

As if that wasn’t interesting enough about the cypress tree, cypress trees have been known to live for thousands of years.

Scientifically, cypress trees are said to live for over 600 years, but some have lived for thousands, continuing to grow. Research published in Environmental Research Communications found a bald cypress tree that’s at least 2,624 years old along North Carolina’s black river.

Furthermore, cypress trees, among the redwoods, are one of the largest trees to survive and stand over geological time.

Cypress Trees Grow Really Tall And Have Knees

Cypress trees can grow upwards of 120 feet. Andof course, to stand that tall, you have to have knees!

Over the years, cypress trees have become known as the Trees With Knees. Scientists have studied the trees extensively to determine the purpose of their knee formations in wet, unstable soils.

So, Why Do Cypress Trees Need Knees?

Scientists have found that in swamps, the base and root systems of cypress trees remain submerged in water, allowing the roots to grow in an unusual upside-down u-shape. As the roots take shape, the part that is above water begins to form those peculiar knees.

According to Harvard University, it’s been determined that out of the several hypotheses, the most widely accepted purpose for the cypress tree knees is for aeration.

The knees function as an organ for the trees, allowing them a place to breathe above the water. They have also been considered to be a point of anchorage for the trees, and could even be used to collect and carry nutrients from the swampy waters.

Cypress Trees Are Extremely Common On The East Coast

Cypress trees grow in a lot of areas that have swamps and warm temperatures. Beautiful lake with trees growing in the water. Green swamp cypresses on sukko lake in anapa, russia. Summer nature landscape.

Cypress trees naturally grow among water sources, such as ponds, swamps, lakes, and other wetland ecosystems across the coastlines of the United States.

However, they are not limited to the coasts. Cypress trees also grow inland because of their adaptable nature, but most commonly reside in warm, wet states along the Mississippi River Valley.

Cypress trees can still be grown in your backyard and will do best in states with warm, humid climates.

Delaware

Cypress trees can grow as far North as Delaware. 

Since Delaware borders, the Coast, the wetlands of this state allow for adequate growth of cypress trees. Delaware is home to the Great Cypress Swamp, which is a forested freshwater swamp home to towering cypress trees.

The Great Cypress Swamp also extends into parts of Maryland, which is another state along the Atlantic Coast that hosts cypress swamps.

Virginia

Cypress trees commonly grow in swamp lands in Virginia.

Interestingly, Virginia is now home to the largest cypress tree, standing at 145 feet tall. They still don’t quite match the giant nature of the redwoods, but they’re a close second.

In Virginia, or anywhere along the Atlantic Coast for that matter, cypress trees produce striking colors in the autumn months just before their leaves begin to fall.

North & South Carolina

Cypress trees are common in the Carolinas. Cypress trees grow in both North and South Carolina.

Like we discussed earlier, one of the oldest known living cypress trees in the United States is a Bald Cypress in North Carolina. The Bald Cypress in North Carolina is at least 2,624 years old (dated in 2019.) Talk about experience!

The old cypress can be found in The Three Sisters Swamp of North Carolina.

Florida

Cypress trees commonly grow in the Florida Everglades. Towering cypress trees covered in Spanish moss are an incredible sight in the swamps of Georgia and Florida.

Big Tree Park in Florida was once home to the oldest and largest cypress tree before it was lost in a fire in 2012.

The Senator, as it was named by locals, stood at 126 feet tall and was over 3,500 years old.

You Can Find Cypress Trees Anywhere Along The Gulf Coast

Outside of the Atlantic Coast, states along the Gulf Coast are home to many cypress trees and forests.

The warm, humid climate of the Gulf Coast allows cypress trees to thrive in surrounding states.

The Bayous of the South contains soft, moist soil that all the cypress trees love. In this climate, cypress trees around your home are more common!

Cypress Trees Are Common In The South

In Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama, several varieties of cypress trees are common. Cypress trees are one of the most anchored trees in these state’s native woodlands, and perhaps that’s because of those peculiar knees.

Because of their anchored roots and base, the hurricanes of the Gulf are no match. The most damage a hurricane has done to the cypress is sending those pine needles flying. And that’s probably why they’re one of the longest surviving trees of geological time.

In Alabama, an underwater bald cypress forest was discovered in 2012 just off the coast 60 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The well-preserved underwater forest is home to cypress trees that are well over 52,000 years old.

Now that’s insane.

Louisiana Has Cypress Trees Too!

Also, along the Gulf Coast is the state of Louisiana. Cypress trees are common in Louisiana. In fact, the state tree of Louisiana is the Bald Cypress. 

The Bald Cypress serves as a symbol of the southern swamps. Its abundance, beauty, and economic importance makes it the perfect state tree for Louisiana.

You can easily grow a cypress tree in your yard in Louisiana while still representing the state!

Cypress Trees Grow Inland In Southeastern State Swamps and Wetlands

While cypress trees are most common in the swamps along the coast, they still commonly grow inland in the plains of southern states.

Cypress trees grow along both the East and West sides of the Mississippi River.

West Side Of The Mississippi River

On the West side, cypress trees are common in Missouri, Arkansas, and even southeastern portions of Oklahoma. Although it may be less common to see a cypress naturally sprout up in these inland states, the ornamental use of cypress trees is more common.

The warm, humid weather of these southern states allows the cypress tree to be the perfect shade tree addition to your propertyIn southwestern portions of Arkansas, a Cypress Swamp can be found housing several cypress trees.

Cypress Trees Commonly Grow Along The East Side Of The Mississippi River Valley

Cypress trees are also known to commonly grow along the east side of the Mississippi River Valley.

On the East side, cypress trees can be found in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee.

In Tennessee, there are many groves of cypress trees that can be seen standing tall. In these areas, cypress trees are known as living fossils. In fact, some discoveries of cypress tree imprints have made their debut as fossils from way back then in Tennessee.

You can grow cypress trees around your home in any of these states easily!

Some Cypress Trees Grow Along The West Coast

Millions of years ago, scientists have said that cypress woodlands once dominated areas of California.

Since the formation of mountains and changes in the landscape of California, the climate has grown increasingly dry and arid. Because of this, some cypress trees have grown drought resistant, but because of their nature and need for wetlands, the areas of California are no longer dominated by cypress trees. 

On the West Coast, cypress trees often grow on rocky ranges, and the Italian Cypress is the most common cypress in California growing in the Mediterranean regions of the area.

If you’re looking to plant a cypress tree around your home in these areas, try planting the Italian cypress and watch it thrive in the dry climate!

Cypress Trees Are Also Commonly Grow Outside Of The US

Colorful swamp sunset in louisiana reflecting on american values.

The common cypress tree is said to have originated in Persia. 

The originated botanical name of the cypress tree is Cupressus Sempervirens, meaning “cypresses” and “evergreen” in Latin. It’s silly since cypress trees don’t stay green all year round, but are still considered evergreen trees.

Outside of Persia, cypress trees naturally occur in Mediterranean Regions, Chile, and Asia.

Cypress Trees Grow In Mediterranean Regions

Countries such as Greece, Israel, and Turkey are common homes to cypress trees.

Like California, the most common cypress tree in these Mediterranean regions is the Italian cypress tree.

They can be grown for ornamental use in any of these countries!

The Oldest Living Cypress Tree Lives In Chile

According to a study done by Yale, the oldest living tree in the world is a cypress in Chile, and is said to be over 5000 years old!

The reason the research is so new is that scientists have discovered a way to determine the age of a tree by using a computer model rather than the old-fashioned tree ring method.

However, the scientist that discovered the potential age of this ancient tree suggests that his model is 80% accurate leaving only a 20% chance that the tree is younger than they estimate.

The Many Uses Of Cypress Trees

Birds in the sunset of a cypress swamp. Cypress trees have many uses.

Cypress trees are high in intrinsic value. Outside of nature’s use of cypress trees for wildlife, repelling insects, soil conservation, and aesthetic beauty, man has used cypress wood for its ability to craft easily.

For a full list, you can head over to our article to learn about the uses of cypress trees!

Cypress Wood Is Used For Crafting

Cypress is a softwood, so it is easily maneuverable, but it is also rot-resistant. Because of this, cypress wood is perfect for crafting any outdoor furniture, fencing, and other woodworking, and was commonly used for commercial logging.

Today, cypress trees are getting harder to reach as they tend to grow in less desirable areas as compared to other trees. Treading through the swamps to reach the lumber isn’t ideal.

Even the cypress cones and balls have uses!

Cypress Trees Are Home To Wildlife

In the wild, cypress trees are home to many critters.

The hollowed-out areas of their roots allow animals to shelter. Ducks, turkeys, and squirrels often snack on the fallen seeds of cypress trees.

Cypress Trees Are Used As Essential Oil

And perhaps the most beneficial use for cypress trees is medicinal. The essential oil of the cypress tree is pure and organic in nature.

When used properly, cypress essential oil may stimulate the circulatory system, contains sedative properties, and is commonly used for respiratory illness symptoms. However, please check in with a professional or healthcare provider before using any essential oils.

Some Ways To Purchase The Essential Oil

If you want to purchase cypress essential oil, check out the Young Living Cypress Essential Oil!

It’s one of the best option if you’re looking to harness some benefits of cypress oil, and you can even diffuse it around your home for the smell if you’re looking to whiff scents of the woodlands from your own home.

Logging Off!

Cypress trees are beautiful in nature and compounds most commonly grown along coastlines.

In the United States, it is hard to narrow down the number of states that cypress trees commonly grow in because of their common ornamental use and ability to adapt to different soil conditions.

Here are some quick things that we went over about cypress trees!

  • Some cypress trees are drought resistant while others prefer a constant water flow!
  • A cypress tree can grow in just about any environment if you’re planning on planting one around your home.
  • In order for cypress trees to reproduce and thrive on their own, they require warm, temperate and swampy environments. 
  • Cypress trees most commonly grow in states along the Atlantic Coast, Gulf Coast, West Coast, and southern states along the Mississippi River Valley. 
  • Cypress trees also grow in other countries, such as Asia, Chile, and Mediterranean Regions and are used for their many life-changing properties.
  • Cypress trees were most commonly used for commercial logging because of their heartwood nature. 
  • Today, properties from the cypress tree, such as harnessing its essential oil, can be used for many medicinal reasons.

References:

Stahle, D. W., Edmondson, J. R., Howard, I. M., Robbins, C. R., Griffin, R. D., Carl, A., … & Torbenson, M. C. A. (2019). Longevity, climate sensitivity, and conservation status of wetland trees at Black River, North Carolina. Environmental Research Communications1(4), 041002.

Koehler, A. (1924). The properties and uses of wood. McGraw-Hill Book Company.

Lumsden, A. S. (1999). The Cypress Swamp.

Mattoon, W. R. (1915). The southern cypress (No. 272). US Department of Agriculture.

Mitsch, W. J., & Ewel, K. C. (1979). Comparative biomass and growth of cypress in Florida wetlands. American Midland Naturalist, 417-426.

Neubrech, W. L. (1939). American southern cypress (No. 194). US Government Printing Office.

Shaheen, A., Hanif, M. A., Rehman, R., & Hanif, A. (2020). Cypress. In Medicinal Plants of South Asia (pp. 191-205). Elsevier.

Stahle, D. W., Edmondson, J. R., Howard, I. M., Robbins, C. R., Griffin, R. D., Carl, A., … & Torbenson, M. C. A. (2019). Longevity, climate sensitivity, and conservation status of wetland trees at Black River, North Carolina. Environmental Research Communications, 1(4), 041002.

Williston, H. L. (1980). Cypress management: a forgotten opportunity (Vol. 8). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Area, State and Private Forestry.

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