bits and pieces ~ cypress edition

We have two cypress trees in our back yard. One was put in (at our request) by the landscaper hired by the builder (30+ years ago) and the other I plugged in the ground a few years later myself. For the most part, they have thrived (though one suffers a little from crowding by nearby trees), and I have even taken some of their offspring out to my Ozark woods to plant. One is doing especially well there by the pond.

But the combination of cypress trees and long-haired dogs does present a problem for anyone hoping to keep a relatively clean house. Cypress leaves are feathery things with many leaflets on them. In the fall especially, but every season of the year, the dogs bring them in on their fur and then they fall out (or get tugged out by me or my wife), the leaflets break off, and their accumulation begins in the corners of the rooms. Worse, though, are the “cones” that the cypress trees produce. These are spherical, a little smaller than a golf ball, and are not much of a nuisance in that state. But they break into smaller, sharp pieces and get wedged in the pads of the dogs feet. Not only will the dogs bring them in the house this way (and then leave them here and there for my bare-footed self to step on), but they often hurt the dogs, who limp and chew at their feet until one of their humans can dig around and find the offending bit.

I did not know this, but apparently cypress trees are like oak trees in the production of their cones. After an especially prolific year, they apparently will lay off from producing cones the following year. Oaks will do this with acorns. It seems that the resources and effort required to produce an abundant crop of acorns (and I guess cones) exhausts both the trees and the ground/immediate growing conditions. Thus the fallow year. And I understand that wildlife populations will wax and wane based on this cycle as well.

And so last fall was the fallow year for our two cypress trees. I didn’t see a single cone high in the branches or on the ground, the dogs have had no complaints, and I’m not stepping on them in the house. It’s easy to get complacent about this, to forget that nature is going to keep to its cycles regardless of my memory or desire.

On the few occasions we’ve had a tree trimmer out, they have always gravitated to the larger of the two cypress in the backyard, certain that it was why they were called out. Obviously, they seem to think, removing that is why they were summoned. “Too close to your house,” they assert. Or “clogging your gutters with droppings.” And then they are surprised when we say no, we love this tree that shades our house in the summer and provides shelter for birds and squirrels and visual interest from our bedroom window in the winter. We did have some lower branches removed that were rubbing on the roof and in a mostly futile attempt to get more sunlight to reach the ground so we could grow some grass, but the tree remains.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ramblings Off Topic

2 Comments on “bits and pieces ~ cypress edition”

  1. markparis Says:

    I didn’t know you could grow cypress trees up there. They aren’t native as far inland and upland as here in Rome, but they can grow here. Berry College planted a row by a lake on the campus. The lake has since drained into a sinkhole, but the cypresses remain. I looked at the range of the cypress and see that it extends up the Mississippi, but not as far as Kansas City. I wonder how far out of their natural range they can thrive.

  2. Paul Lamb Says:

    Mark, there were huge swamps in the boot heel of Missouri in pre-settlement days, and they were filled with cypress. My backyard is far from the book heel, but the two are doing very well. And there are many, deliberately planted, all over the city.


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