Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 02, 2010

From: Wylie, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pruning, Trees
Title: Pruning Bald Cypress in Wylie, TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a 6 year old bald cypress that sustained damage to the upper portion of its trunk a couple of years ago. Since that time it has grown more outward than upward and developed a rounder shape. It now appears that two branches, each equally dominant, have forked the main truck and are starting to grow upward again. Should I prune one of these branches to allow the other take over or just let them grow out? The tree appears otherwise very healthy.

ANSWER:

From our Native Plant Database on Taxodium distichum (bald cypress), we want to quote some information on the shape of this beautiful tree.

"This lofty, deciduous conifer grows 50-75 ft. or taller. It is slender and conical in youth, becoming flat-topped in very old age. Large, needle-leaf, aquatic, deciduous tree often with cone-shaped knees projecting from submerged roots, with trunks enlarged at base and spreading into ridges or buttresses, and with a crown of widely spreading branches, flattened at top."

We really love the conical shape of this tree when it is young, but it sounds as though it is not a particular issue as far as the tree is concerned, because it will develop widely spreading branches as it ages. This article from the USDA Forest Service Baldcypress specifically mentions that the tree broadens out as it grows, and it can even be pruned into a hedge. Just from your description, it would not appear that it is going to do any damage to the tree to let it grow the way it wants to. It might cause the tree to look unbalanced if one of the trunks were pruned away, and pruning is always an invitation to insects and disease in a tree. This appears to us an excellent example of "leave it alone, it's doing fine."

 

From the Image Gallery


Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

Bald cypress
Taxodium distichum

More Trees Questions

Problems with dogwood borers in TN
April 20, 2011 - What is the best way to treat native dogwoods infested with Dogwood borer insects? I have cut and removed the dead ones and the ones with large patches of bark missing but would like to save the remai...
view the full question and answer

Scorched leaves on Red Maple from Lufkin TX
April 30, 2012 - I have a Red Maple that we planted in Lufkin, TX about a month ago and fertilized about 2 weeks ago. We water the tree often. The leaves have become scorched looking on the outside of about 1/3 of t...
view the full question and answer

Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin
August 22, 2012 - My ash tree becomes loaded with butterflies on the trunk. At closer inspection, I see they are drinking sap which is coming from small holes in the trunk. Are the butterflies creating the holes? I ...
view the full question and answer

Need source for seeds or plants of Pinus remota in Johnson City, TX..
October 18, 2011 - I cannot seem to find a source for Pinus remota or papershell pinyon pine. Who Grows this? I understand it is rare and would love to try it here in Johnson City. Thanks
view the full question and answer

Selection of a small variety of Desert Willow for SE Texas
August 02, 2011 - Looking to plant desert willow as shrub. Any helpful tips to keep height down and plant full or bushy.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.