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Bald cypress is native to swampy conditions though it can also withstand dry, sunny weather. The tree grows along the banks of rivers and streams that have slow-moving water. The bald cypress is also a habitat in and of itself, providing a home for animals in its trunk and branches and food for them in the form of its seeds. The bald cypress tree can survive for centuries. Growing slowly, they will get taller and taller for roughly 200 years, reaching heights of up to 150 feet. The trees usually live for 600 years, though some specimens are said to have survived for more than 1,000 years. Midway through their lives, fungus often besets the bald cypress, beginning at the top of the tree and working its way down.


The trunks of bald cypress trees are covered in thin bark that varies in color from gray to reddish-brown and peels off of the tree in strips. The bald cypress also has a particularly unique feature in the form of "knees," knobby segments of the tree's roots that protrude from the water. Known by the scientific name pneumatophores, these growths are thought to allow the tree access to oxygen during floods or help it remain stable in soggy swamps. Old growth bald cypress heartwood is prized in the timber industry for its strength.

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