Bald cypress is a stately symbol of the southern Illinois swamps. The broad, buttressed trunk helps anchor the tree―an adaptation to life in the wet soil of the swamp. It is called the "bald" cypress because it sheds its leaves all at once in the fall, which is unusual for a conifer.
Some bald cypress trees in Illinois are over 1,000 years old. They are the oldest living trees in the state.
The wood of bald cypress is very rot resistant and is often used as landscaping mulch.
The strange-looking conical growths that project out of the water near the tree’s base are called "knees." They carry oxygen to the tree's underwater roots.