2016

 
 

This tree is worth having if only for its unusual origins. It is called Nanjing Beauty and, not surprisingly, comes from China, the Nanjing Botanical Garden to be precise. It is a Bald cypress, but a hybrid of two different North American species; Taxodium distichum, which is the Bald cypress of North America; and Taxodium mucronatum, the Montezuma cypress native to Mexico. Hybridized in China and named Taxodium 'Zhongshansa' it was selected from thousands of candidates for a new street tree for China and it has now been planted in the millions across the south of that country. But, despite its popularity in China, it is still exceedingly rare across most of the world, even in the North American homeland. But in addition to its unique origins, Nanjing Beauty has some wonderful characteristics, possessing all of the advantages of the parents and none of the disadvantages. It is deciduous and has the feathery soft needles, the rich russety autumn color, the straight as an arrow conical shape, and the rapid growth-rate, which is at least 16 feet in 10 years, likely more in warmer regions. But it's what it lacks that makes this beauty such a winner. It doesn't make knees, the woody out-growths that are so problematic to lawn maintenance. At last a Bald cypress without knees.
Nanjing Beauty has tremendous adaptability as well, tolerating high alkalinity, drought, periodic flooding, and extreme heat and cold. It will eventually reach 70 feet, or more, in many, many years and take on the tiered silhouette of a mature Bald cypress, which is rather grand. It is disease and insect proof and a superb choice for fast screens or soil stabilization and it makes a ideal specimen choice. It will grow across the most of the United States, the warmer parts of the UK and New Zealand and is a splendid choice for Australia.

Nanjing Beauty bald cypress

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