Thursday, January 14, 2010

Want to try something "Cool" this spring?

Frio River Bald Cypress
As a graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, I have become a person who embraces diversity in many regards. As it comes to landscape plants, I am learning more each and every day about the types of things that need to be identified in regards to achieving success in our Front Range environment. In reviewing various literature regarding "tough and drought tolerant" species you come across many varieties of plants that on the surface appear to be great candidates. One of the local municipalities has come up with such a list of recommended and not recommended trees for our area. Many trees on the not recommended list include some that tend to show intolerance for our higher pH soils, not that pH is the determining factor in nutrient deficiency leading to cholorosis which is an issue I will address at a later time. Regardless, one interesting recommended tree was Taxodium distichum, Common Bald Cypress, a deciduous conifer that has worked well on the plains east of here in many applications. Here, though, it gets chlorotic which is the primary reason it is not used much which may or may not have been considered prior to its placement on this list.

We now have a solid candidate for a cold hardy, alkaline tolerant Bald Cypress for our area. Taxodium distichum "Frio River" comes from a seed source located in SW Texas and has a high tolerance for alkaline soils as well as the natural ability to withstand anaerobic sites (heavy clay soils). It is cold hardy to USDA Zone 4, grows 50-70' in height with a spread of 25-35'. It is a new introduction to the market in landscape size grades and has not yet been evaluated in Colorado as far as I know. We have seen Bald Cypress specified on landscape plans lately and on recommended tree lists with various municipalities. We will be stocking a limited quantity of this plant this spring, in 2" and 2.5" caliper sizes. Please let us know early of your interest in using this plant as they are not widely available. Frio River Bald Cypress is definitely a "cool" tree that should become useful in diversifying our landscapes.


  1. Hi Matt,
    Don't know if you ever noticed, but there are some wonderfully mature bald cypress on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder...this Frio River sounds exciting.The common Bald Cypress has always been one of my favorites-who would have thought it could grow here.It would be interesting to find out how they take care of those plantings on the Mall.

  2. Boulder is well known as having moderately alkaline soils. I know Pin Oak do much better there than in other areas of the Front Range. I know our new farm's soil pH is 8, not great for Autumn Blaze and probably not great to grow even Frio River as it prefers heavier soils. That's another point to make, Taxodium are considered relatively drought tolerant, but some of that has to do with the soils they are planted in as well.

  3. I want to try and use the gravity fed spring water I have to cool my house in the summer.