En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Monday - September 14, 2009

From: Thibodaux , LA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Plants beneath native bald cypress trees in Thibodaux LA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a bed that needs to be revamped and it has two beautiful 18 year old Bald cypress trees. I would like to work the soil and plant some appropriate shade tolerant plants. How do I work the soil with the roots and knees, without hurting the trees?

ANSWER:

To be perfectly honest with you, we wouldn't. The "knees" develop mostly in poorly drained situations, since the tree is adapted to being an aquatic plant. The knees are useful in an exchange of gases and take in oxygen in a low-oxygen environment. This tree can live to be BIG and OLD, and like the gorilla in the house, needs to be able to put its roots anywhere it wants to. In an area like Lafourche Parish, where you are in Louisiana, two very important functions of the roots on a Taxodium distichum (bald cypress) are that the tree is not susceptible to suffocation, so it can withstand flooding, and also for support. This tree is rarely blown over, even in hurricanes. We would recommend mulching the bed where the bald cypresses are, and going farther out to plant grasses or garden plants. Besides being very utilitarian, we think the knees on the trees are an interesting feature of a wonderful tree. 


Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

 

 

More Trees Questions

Fast-growing medium-sized tree for New Jersey
July 06, 2013 - I'm looking for trees to put on a slight slope that will do well in rocky clay soil. I 'm in N.J. zone 6. The spot is full sun and would like a fast grower 50 ft high maximum. I'm replacing white p...
view the full question and answer

Are junipers tainting the soil in Loveland CO?
June 10, 2011 - Have several varieties of junipers around my yard. Each year I try to place a small garden in a corner of my yard, the plants don't do well at all. Growing up nearby, I gardened with my parents so ...
view the full question and answer

Spot for communion and tree planting on Long Island
February 20, 2012 - I'm planning to combine my son's communion and a tree planting memorial for his uncle/godfather that passed on Valentine's Day. I'm looking for a venue on Long Island that can combine both on May ...
view the full question and answer

Ground cover under Spruces from West Chester PA
December 06, 2012 - Trying to get a native groundcover (or any grass/wildflower/fern) planting established under a small stand of spruces. Established stand (30+ years old), so lots of needles on ground. Just about tot...
view the full question and answer

Small native trees for northern Virginia
September 27, 2011 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I am looking for a native alternative to a Japanese Red Maple in northern Virginia. I would like a small tree that I can put in my front garden that will not pose a security risk my...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center