Pondcypress Genetic Test
Pondcypress [Taxodium distichum var. nutans (Ait.)] has a more restricted range than baldcypress, occurring from southeastern Virginia to southern Florida and extending westward to southeastern Louisiana. It usually grows in shallow ponds and flat, wet areas, but not in river or stream swamps. It can have a more columnar form than baldcypress. Pondcypress can have nearly scale like leaves, which are arranged along the twigs in several ranks. In some trees, the leaves are more pointed toward the sky, making the specimens attractive for ornamental plantings. Despite differences in appearance between the leaves of pondcypress and baldcypress, not all specimens are typical due to introgression.

In 1992, the UT-TIP collected ten open-pollinated families of pondcypress in the Monck’s Corner area of South Carolina. The seeds were grown at the East Tennessee State Nursery for one year. The resulting seedlings were used to establish three tests in Tennessee: East Tennessee State Nursery, Ames Plantation, and UT Highland Rim Educational and Research Center. Growth was best at the East Tennessee Nursery planting, which will be converted to a seedling seed orchard based on 10-year growth measurements. The Highland Rim planting, north of Nashville, Tennessee, did not have sufficient survival for conversion to a seed orchard, but a number of trees did survive the coldest location of the three Tennessee plantings. Ornamental selections will be made at the Ames Plantation planting, followed by conversion to a seedling seed orchard to meet the needs of the Tennessee nursery industry.