Taxodium mucronatum (Montezuma Cypress) - This beautiful large Mexican native tree can grow in dry soils, however it will grow slower, or in well-watered areas like lawns. Montezuma cypress has a broad, spreading crown with strong, horizontal branches and delicate, weeping branchlets with pinnately arranged flattened bright green needles. The bark, often described as shreddy, is a pale tan color. The roots of trees growing in standing water can send up conical projections ("knees") but those that experience periodic drying out, such as those growing along stream courses or in cultivation, are less likely to form these.
Plant in full sun and irrigate regularly to occasionally. Widely noted as hardy to around 10°F but we have been told that it can actually tolerate temperatures below 0°F. Typically planted as a large tree we have also seen this plant pruned to be kept as large hedge.
Montezuma Cypress is closely related to the deciduous Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum, of southeastern United States but even in colder years Montezuma Cypress tends to hold some foliage, though it often turns an orange brown color, and in frost-free years is evergreen, while the Bald Cypress always goes deciduous. This plant is native to much of Mexico and to the Rio Grande Valley in southern coastal Texas. The name for the genus comes from the Latin word 'taxus' meaning "yew" and the Greek word eidos that means "similar to" and the specific epithet is from Latin and means having a "short abrupt tip" in reference to the leaf tips. This plant has long been in cultivation as Taxodium mucronatum but the current correct name is now Taxodium distichum var. mexicanum. It has also previously been called Taxodium huegelii - we retain the name Taxodium mucronatum until Taxodium distichum var. mexicanum gets broader acceptance.
There are many large specimens of this plant in Santa Barbara and a group of specimen trees in Plaza Vera Cruz Neighborhood Park are particularly notable. In Mexico the tree is called Ahuehuete, which means "old man of the water" in Nahuatl. It was once more widespread around the capital district but habitat loss due to urbanization and lowering water tables has made it less common. Mexico's most famous tree; a giant specimen outside Oaxaca City at Santa Maria del Tule is called El Árbol del Tule (which translates to "The Tree of Tule") and is thought to be around 1,500 years old with a girth of 138 feet. It has been said that this tree is the world's largest single biomass. There is great information about this species and El Árbol del Tule in Jared Farmer's Elderflora: A Modern History of Ancient Trees
Information about Taxodium mucronatum displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.