Swamp Cypress (Cupressaceae) – Taxodium distichum

As a new feature we should like to draw your attention to some of the special trees in the park. Our first candidate is the swamp cypress. The magnificent specimen is about two hundred metres into the park if you enter at College Gate, in the open space on the right. The picture shows it in its golden autumn glory.

Swamp Cypress

Head Gardener Ric Glenn tells us: “This tree originated in the south-eastern US. As the name suggests, it grows in moist soils. Unusually for a conifer, the leaf turns golden brown then drops for winter, revealing the fine formal structure of the tree.

Another unusual feature is the aerial ‘knee roots’, called pneumatophores, that sprout above ground some distance from the trunk. Originally thought to help waterlogged roots to breathe, recent research has shown that the knee roots have no lenticels and are therefore not involved in gaseous exchange. Only one of Dulwich Park’s swamp cypresses has developed knee roots and they are not visible to the public.”