Cunninghamia from Michael in SC

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I’ve been thinking of this tree as a bald cypress, but that doesn’t seem right for several reasons. We are in downtown, nowhere near any swampy areas. Every description of the bald cypress I’ve read describes cones averaging 1.5-2.0 cm; this plant had spherical cones averaging 5 cm when they drop. And the pictures I’ve seen of the dagger-like single leaves have them radiating from the branches in two directions, while this plant has them radiating out in all directions.

Given the crowded urban landscape, this is the best I can do about a picture of the overall plant; you’ll have to think away the mimosa tree photobombing in the front. Details to show the leaf structure, a typical cone, and the bark. This particular tree, by the way, has a triple trunk. It looks like three saplings grew together. And while it doesn’t have knees to speak of, it does keep sending up a small forest of shoots around the base of the trunk.

Hi Michael,

this tree cannot be bald cypress, because the needles are evergreen. Bald cypress is often planted in yards as an ornamental, so it could be anywhere, not just in a swamp. Your tree is actually Cunninghamia lanceolata, often called China-fir, though it is not a true fir. It is native to east Asia.


Steven Hill, Ph.D. Botanist SCNPS

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