Cypress trees are conifers, but unlike most American softwoods, these are deciduous trees that shed foliage in the fall like hardwoods. Although cypress is a softwood, it grows alongside hardwoods and traditionally has been grouped and manufactured with hardwoods. The oils in cypress’ heartwood make it one of the most durable woods when exposed to moisture conditions causing decay.
Where it Grows
Most cypress trees are natives of the South. They are found primarily in wet, swampy areas along the Atlantic Coastal Plain from Delaware to Florida, and west along the Gulf of Mexico to the border of Texas and Mexico. Cypress also thrives along the Mississippi Valley from the Louisiana delta to southern Indiana.
Cypress roots love water. Some trees growing on wet sites develop what are called cypress “knees” or pneumatophores. The knee-like upright growths come from the roots, helping to support the tree and also to aerate the waterlogged root system. The wood from the knees is soft and light and can be used to make vases and novelty items.
Exterior: siding, shutters, shingles, trim, fence posts.
Interior: paneling, moulding, millwork, cabinetry, flooring, furniture.
Did You Know?
During the Middle Ages, European craftsmen carved massive cathedral doors from cypress.
The sapwood is pale yellow white with the heartwood varying in color from light to dark or reddish brown.
Cypress machines well, planes easily and resists warping. Pre-boring at board edges will help prevent splitting. It nails and screws very well. It glues well, sands easily and readily accepts finishes.
Readily available as lumber and veneer.