The bald cypress tree is a deciduous conifer that can grow up to 120 feet tall. The stringy bark is gray and brown, and the base of the trunk can flare up to 6 feet in diameter on mature trees.
Unlike species of conifers such as pines and spruces, the bald cypress annually drops every needle shaped leaf in the fall, giving it the name "bald." The green foliage turns various shades of orange and brown when the tree goes into dormancy.
The bald cypress grows slowly and can live up to 600 years. The species is suitable for use as an ornamental tree because it can adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions including swamps and dry areas. In wetlands, bald cypress commonly develop unique growths. These growths arise from the root zone and are known as "knees." The knees protrude upwards through the soil surface or the surface of the water, depending on where the tree is growing.
Bald cypress cones do not resemble the cones of most conifers. Instead, they are globular-shaped and comprised of scales, with two seeds in each scale.
Bald cypress are monoecious, meaning that a single tree has both male and female reproductive organs. The trees are able to self-pollinate for seed production.