Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A better look at a bald cypress turning colors

with 17 comments

Bald Cypress Turning Orange 3839

Click for greater clarity and size.

In the last post you saw some fall color from a bald cypress tree, Taxodium distichum, reflected in Bull Creek on December 3, 2013. Now here’s a less Impressionist view—but still an appealing one, with orange against blue—showing the autumn leaves and the fruit this species produces.

Today’s photograph is from the Riata Trace Pond on December 2nd.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

January 25, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , , ,

17 Responses

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  1. Why is it called ‘bald’?

    Jim in IA

    January 25, 2014 at 6:43 AM

    • Unlike other cypresses (and evergreens in general), it loses its leaves in the winter and ends up “bald” for a while. The one shown here is beginning that transition.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2014 at 7:07 AM

  2. Still thinking of the reflection photo from yesterday. Beautiful!


    January 25, 2014 at 7:40 AM

  3. Love the contrast of orange against blue. And what a blue! Thanks for the explanation of a bald cypress. I took a photo of one in Lisbon’s Botanical Garden (http://wp.me/p3jVw4-ts) and wondered why it was named ‘bald’. Makes complete sense. 🙂


    January 25, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    • You’ve reminded me of two things from my past. When I was growing up on Long Island (New York), the official colors of Nassau County, where I lived, were blue and orange; even the police cars back then were painted blue and orange. The other connection is the University of Lisbon, where I took Portuguese language classes in the summer of 1966. It never occurred to me that someone’s experience with a bald cypress would be from there, but I hope you’ll get to see some in their natural range as well.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2014 at 8:50 AM

  4. I do love the cypress foliage, no doubt you have many of them out there by you. There are only a handful of them of the 100+ trees on our property. Besides the Chinese tallow and pecan, it’s the prettiest for fall/winter show that we have! Plus, we get to use all those lightweight, easy-to-rake, bright orange needles. (http://wp.me/p28k6D-LO)


    January 25, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    • Now that’s a use for bald cypress needles I’d never have imagined: as mulch for your pea plants. It’s great that you have a few of those trees on your property. I think I have to drive at least a mile or two to the bald cypress nearest to where I live (unless there’s one in Great Hills Park I’m not remembering).

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2014 at 9:01 AM

  5. Ah, it’s been so long since I’ve glanced skyward thru the feathery-soft leaves of a cypress tree!    I can almost feel the unique softness of the carpet of fallen leaves underfoot as well.

    Thanks for the trip ‘back home,’ – I’m glad to be on the equator and not where it’s so cold this week.


    Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    January 25, 2014 at 8:21 AM

    • Welcome to the brief trip down Memory Lane, which in this case could be named Bald Cypress Lane.

      Speaking of the Equator, I remember (on a jaunt down my own Memory Lane) reading Ripley’s Believe It or Not when I was a teenager and coming across an article making the point that it’s still possible to freeze to death on the Equator; that could happen, for example, if you’re up in the Andes. Fortunately for you, you’re down low and therefore in a warm place.

      This has been a cooler winter in Austin than any I remember in recent years. The overnight from Thursday to Friday left us with a carpet of small ice pellets in many places. There’s still a bit of it left in shady spots this morning.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM

  6. I love the contrast in color in the photo…and it is such a pretty tree. Unfortunately we are a bit too far north of their range to enjoy them.


    January 25, 2014 at 10:37 AM

  7. There are a good number of these trees around here. They’re fun to watch. If the conditions are right (as they were this year) they’ll all turn that lovely, rusty-orange color, and then, as if on cue, drop all of their needles at once. When the ones here at my apartment complex dropped this year, they were on the trees when I left for work, and they were all on the ground when I came home that night. The next morning, when I went to work, the cypress at the marina joined in, and they were completely bare. I suspect our sharply and suddenly colder temperatures were the trigger.


    January 27, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    • I’m so familiar with these trees from the Hill Country that I never thought of them being abundant near the coast, but of course I’m glad to hear they are.

      What you say about this season’s cold (and windy) weather sounds like a plausible reason for the quick “balding” you saw near you. No bald cypresses are near enough to my house that I’ve been gotten a sense of how long the needles typically last in their rusty orange phase before falling off, or whether the process went faster than usual this year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 27, 2014 at 9:48 AM

  8. As my husband has long since proven, being bald in no way prevents one’s being colorful. 🙂


    January 27, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    • Well said, and yet I’ll bet that many a man wishes he could be not just colorful but also deciduous and so expect a regrowth each spring.

      Steve Schwartzman

      January 28, 2014 at 6:07 AM

  9. […] December 2nd at the Riata Trace Pond in northwest Austin the fall had made itself firmly felt and a couple of unrelated plants there, […]

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