Pictured is the Bald Cypress as submitted to Bonsai Clubs International for the 1997 Ben Oki International Design Award Competition

Bald Cypress
Taxodium distichum

Height ... 52 inches     Root Base ... 21.5 inches


Collected from the swamps of Southeastern Louisiana in February 1990, this Bald Cypress, Taxodium Distichum, was 25 feet in height. Using a small cross cut saw, the roots were severed easily because of the mucky soil of the swamps. All branching of the cypress was on the top one third of the tree. After digging, the new top of the cypress was cut at 48 inches and roots were wrapped in burlap. There was no branching on the cypress after the collection process was completed. Upon returning home, the cypress was bare rooted and all major cuts on the large roots were made to insure that the future roots would easily fit into the proper bonsai container. Initial planting was made in the bottom of a plastic 55 gallon drum with drainage holes drilled in the bottom of the tub. Soil mixture used was 50% expanded shale and 50% pine bark sifted through 1/4 inch screen mesh. During the first year, new branching throughout the cypress was encouraged by keeping the top of the tree thinned in order to begin the design process that was anticipated for the following year. Here is a photo of the cypress in the fall of 1990.


Design of this Bald Cypress bonsai is the Immature Variant Style of the natural way Bald Cypress (Taxodium Distichum) grows. The Immature Variant Style is of a young Bald Cypress that is blunt and fluted which grows naturally on the floodplains of central Louisiana. 

Structure of this now 52 inch tall cypress bonsai is being developed by the wiring of the bonsai twice a year. Initial wiring of the tree is completed on this bonsai before the first spring buds appear and the second wiring of the year is done during the month of July after this vigorous growing bonsai has been completely leaf pruned. Every branch of the bonsai is wired and the use of guy wiring is employed. Guy- wiring is anchored to the bottom of the bonsai using small eye bolts (wood screw type) screwed into the bonsai. When eye bolts are removed, only small holes remain which the bonsai heals very quickly. 

Protection of the wood where the carving was done to achieve taper was with lime sulphur for the first 5 years. Since then the wood is protected with cut paste. Anticipated time frame for the scar to completely heal over is another year and a half. 

Future of this Bald Cypress bonsai is the removal of all branching on the top half of the bonsai as soon as the scar that was used to create taper is completely healed over. The scar tissue has no bud information and because the scar is so large no branches come from that side of the bonsai. After braches are removed at the top of the bonsai, branches that "pop" will then be tread grafted into the scar tissue. The exact placement of the new top branching will not only be perfect, but will be in
scale with the lower branching of the bonsai.