Common Name(s): Cypress, Baldcypress
Scientific Name: Taxodium distichum
Distribution: Southeastern United States
Tree Size: 80-120 ft (24-37 m) tall, 3-5 ft (1-1.5 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 32 lbs/ft3 (515 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .42, .51
Janka Hardness: 510 lbf (2,270 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 10,600 lbf/in2 (73.1 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,440,000 lbf/in2 (9.93 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 6,360 lbf/in2 (43.9 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 3.8%, Tangential: 6.2%, Volumetric: 10.5%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
Color/Appearance: Color tends to be a light, yellowish brown. Sapwood is nearly white. Some boards can have scattered pockets of darker wood that have been attacked by fungi, which is sometimes called pecky cypress.
Grain/Texture: Straight grain and medium texture to coarse texture. Raw, unfinished wood surfaces have a greasy feel.
Endgrain: Resin canals absent; earlywood to latewood transition abrupt, color contrast medium; tracheid diameter large to very large.
Rot Resistance: Old-growth Cypress is rated as being durable to very durable in regards to decay resistance, while wood from younger trees is only rated as moderately durable.
Workability: Sharp cutters and light passes are recommended when working with Cypress to avoid tearout. Also, the wood has been reported by some sources to have a moderate dulling effect on cutting edges. Cypress has good gluing, nailing, finishing, and paint-holding properties.
Odor: Cypress has a distinct, somewhat sour odor while being worked.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Cypress has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Prices ought to be in the mid-range for domestic woods, with clear, knot-free boards for woodworking applications costing more than construction-grade lumber.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
Common Uses: Exterior construction, docks, boatbuilding, interior trim, and veneer.
Comments: Baldcypress is the state tree of Louisiana, and is an icon of southern swamplands. So named because the trees are deciduous (unlike most conifers), and have the peculiar trait of dropping all their needle-like leaves each the winter.
The trees also develop unique aerial roots that protrude above the ground (or water) and are especially seen on trees growing in swamps. These structures are known as knees, and are sometimes harvested on a small scale and sold for woodcarving purposes (see picture below).
Although not technically a cypress in the strictest sense (Cupressus genus), Baldcypress is in the Cupressaceæ family, which includes many decay resistant woods (including cedars), and the wood is a popular choice in exterior construction applications where decay resistance is needed.