5 Different Uses For Bald Cypress Cones And Balls

Close up photo of cypress tree cones.

The bald cypress is a tree in the Cupressaceae family. This tree is a deciduous conifer similar to a pine tree. They produce cones and grow in harsh swampy conditions. The name bald comes from it being one of five conifers that shed their needles in the fall. 

Bald cypress balls and cones are an incredibly useful resource produced by a beautiful tree. Known for their uses, including medicine, insect repellent, and many others. You can make bald cypress balls and cones into oil, resin, and even tea.

So, have you ever wondered just what the heck bald cypress balls/cones are? Keep reading on as we discuss in-depth the uses of the balls and cones of cypress trees!

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Where Do Bald Cypress Trees Grow?

Cypress foliage and cones on white background

Deep in the swampland, this gorgeous tree grows. Alligators and turtles often make their homes near these trees. Jagged knees protrude out of the ground as this tree towers over, providing ample shade for the creatures below.  

In-fact, the Seminole Indians used the wood of this tree to carve out their canoes. Charlie Cypress, born in 1869, was famous for his canoes crafted of this cypress.

Now, however, you will see this tree as a wonderful landscape tree. Cypress trees grow in zones four through nine and along pond banks and other wet areas. Because of their love of the swamp, they are usually very adaptive trees, and enjoy most soil types but prefer sandy acidic soil. 

They dislike shade and will not thrive in areas without full sun. They will tolerate being a little drier, however, mites will quickly become an issue if it is overly dry. Other than mites, this tree has few pests. 

Pests of cypress trees include cypress moths, mites, fall webworm, and a few others. You can easily take care of these pests by applying insecticide, cleaning up leaves and other debris around the tree, and general maintenance. 

This tree can make a fantastic addition to yards that flood easily. Make sure you water well, if not, and fertilize in the spring. Frequently test your soil to be sure that it is acidic enough, if not amend your soil. 

Many love the look of this tree next to the water. Though at night they can be a little spooky. This tree provides excellent shade around your yard and can make a wonderful place to sit and relax. 

Correctly planning the planting of this tree is key to ensuring its proper growth and development. With careful planning, you should have outstanding success growing this tree!

If cared for correctly, this tree will bless you with the beloved Cypress Knees for all your crafts. These knees are great for carving, painting, or leaving blank as decorations! Some even use them in reptile enclosures to provide enrichment to their animals.

If you’re interested in the different types of cypress trees, check out our piece:  9 Differences Between Bald Cypress And Pond Cypress Trees.

Cypress Lumber Was Used For Canoes

Cypress lumber is used for many crafts. Its strength and look are beloved all over. The grain is fine and the wood color is a light yellow.

These woods’ natural oils help repel insects and keep decay at bay. The wood is strong and often used for various crafts that go outdoors. Over time, the wood will turn a gray color with age. 

The real star use is its use for boat making. Native Americans used bald cypress wood for crafting their canoes. Because of the environment in which the tree lives, this wood is an excellent boat material.

It can also be used to make boat docks as well. Overall, many choose to find wood native to their area. This is because most native lumber holds up better in its natural environment.

Is A Bald Cypress Tree An Evergreen?

The question of the day!

Unlike others in its family, the bald cypress is not an evergreen. It loses its needles in the fall, as an oak tree or others would. This is unique as it is in the conifer family but annually loses its needles.

What Are The Little Balls On A Bald Cypress?

Unlike pine trees, bald cypress trees’ cones are not exactly a cone shape, but round little balls. These balls contain the seeds that will grow future cypress trees and feed wildlife such as squirrels and birds. 

These balls contain a sticky sap, also known as a resin. The resin has many uses, including making healing balms. 

What Can I Do With Cypress Balls And Cones?

One dried cypress cone on a white painted wooden background close-up

Bald cypress cones really are not in the shape of a cone. They are round balls that contain seeds. 

Bald cypress cones produce resin, which have been used in healing balms. Some people claim it has beneficial properties for skin rashes and wounds. By adding resin to an oil and beeswax mixture

Wildlife animals can eat these cones (humans shouldn’t eat them.) Animals such as turkeys, rabbits, and squirrels will eat bald cypress cones when given the chance!

According to Stetson University, bald cypress trees may even have medicinal value!

Feed Cypress Balls To Squirrels

Squirrels love eating the seeds inside of the cypress balls! This makes a wonderful tree to feed squirrels. Not only do squirrels enjoy them, other animals such as turkeys and woodpeckers will also consume the seeds within the cypress balls.

Planting this tree could also discourage squirrels from feasting on your bird feeders, as it will provide them with a food source alternative other than your birdseed. 

Enjoy the view as animals eat the seeds from these. However, they can make a mess by tearing up the balls, so be wary of that.

Germinate Bald Cypress Trees To Plant More

Because of the nature of bald cypress and their love of water, for the seeds to germinate, they must be moist at all times. To aid in moisture retention, germinate seeds using a paper towel and freezer bag. This will help retain more water.

Remove the seeds from the cone. This allows for a better germination rate because you can pay special attention to each seed. 

The best seed starting mixture would be equal parts sand and peat moss. Keeping this mixture moist is key to having a good germination rate of the seeds. 

Throughout the growing time, until the tree reaches the optimal height to plant in the ground, be sure to take care of your seedling by keeping the soil moist. These trees need ample sunlight and warmth to grow properly. This is due to their native environment. 

Bald cypress can be maintained like a bonsai tree. This is a popular way to grow such attractive trees. Repot your bonsai often to help maintain healthy soil and root system. You also should fertilize these with regular fertilizer. 

Repel Bugs With Cypress Oil

Cypress oil can repel some bugs such as water bugs. The powerful smell is unappealing to insects and often they will avoid areas with the scent as it masks potential food sources for them and irritates their senses.

This is a less researched method for cypress oil and may not be totally effective.

Cypress Wood Is Used For Furniture

Cones of bald cypress

The best product produced by bald cypress is its wood! This wood is very durable, resistant to rot, and lovely to look at. 

Many woodworkers use this wood to build furniture and other projects, as it looks fantastic. It also is commonly used as wooden flooring. Wooden flooring is a very beautiful flooring for all homes. 

You should properly care for your wood floor by keeping it cleaned and waxed. Polish the flooring often to keep a lustrous shine and to keep it protected and only use wood safe cleaners on it like Murphy’s Oil Soap.

But the ultimate cypress wood product is their knees. Cypress knees make fantastic decorative pieces. They are renowned for cypress carvings, seen in this informative book Carving Cypress Knees, and their overall look. 

Can You Eat Bald Cypress Balls?

Although humans don’t consume bald cypress cones and balls, animals such as squirrels and birds do. This makes this tree a wonderful addition to your backyard oasis. If you love watching wildlife, this is the tree for you as it will attract a variety of animals. 

That’s A Wrap!

Bald cypress trees are wonderful trees that grow in the swamps and bayous in the southern states. They are sought after for their knees, which are wood growths that stick out of the ground. 

These trees do fantastic in wet soil with high acidity. They make a fantastic shade tree for your yards and do well in flooded areas!

The cones attract various wildlife, so for the enthusiast, this is a fantastic thing. Squirrels and rabbits will feast on the dropped cones and you can enjoy the sights of watching them.

Caring for these trees is relatively easy, as they are pretty hardy trees. This is because of their preferred swamp habitat. As long as they have full sun, they should thrive. 

The oil from this tree is great at repelling bugs like cockroaches. Use the oil in places pests may be present. 

Cypress lumber is loved for its versatility in building. Native Americans used cypress wood to build their canoes. However, the real star is cypress knees. These are beloved by crafters around.

References 

“Taxodium Distichum (Baldcypress, Bald Cypress, Cypress) | North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox.” Ncsu.edu, 2019, plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/taxodium-distichum/. Accessed 16 Dec. 2019.

Stahle, D. W., & Cleaveland, M. K. (1996). Large-scale climatic influences on baldcypress tree growth across the southeastern United States. In Climatic Variations and Forcing Mechanisms of the Last 2000 Years (pp. 125-140). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Conner, W. H., & Toliver, J. R. (1990). Long-term trends in the bald-cypress (Taxodium distichum) resource in Louisiana (USA). Forest Ecology and Management33, 543-557.

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