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Baldcypress

Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum)

Baldcypress is a domestic softwood

Location

Baldcypress or cypress (Taxodium distichum) is also known as southern-cypress, red-cypress, yellow-cypress, and whitecypress. Commercially, the terms tidewater red-cypress, gulfcypress, red-cypress (coast type), and yellow-cypress (inland type) are frequently used. About half of the cypress lumber comes from the Southern States and about a fourth from the South Atlantic States. Old-growth baldcypress is no longer readily available, but second-growth wood is available.

Characteristics

Sapwood of baldcypress is narrow and nearly white. The color of heartwood varies widely, ranging from light yellowish brown to dark brownish red, brown, or chocolate. The wood is moderately heavy, moderately strong, and moderately hard. The heartwood of old-growth baldcypress is one of the most decay resistant of U.S. species, but second- growth wood is only moderately resistant to decay. Shrinkage is moderately low but somewhat higher than that of the cedars and lower than that of Southern Pine. The wood of certain baldcypress trees frequently contains pockets or localized areas that have been attacked by a fungus. Such wood is known as pecky cypress. The decay caused by this fungus is stopped when the wood is cut into lumber and dried. Pecky cypress is therefore durable and useful where water tightness is unnecessary, appearance is not important, or a novel effect is desired.

Primary Uses

When old-growth wood was available, baldcypress was used principally for building construction, especially where resistance to decay was required. It was also used for caskets, sashes, doors, blinds, tanks, vats, ship and boat building, and cooling towers. Second-growth wood is used for siding and millwork, including interior woodwork and paneling. Pecky cypress is used for paneling in restaurants, stores, and other buildings.
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