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SPECIES:  Taxodium mucronatum
Montezuma bald cypress bole. Creative Commons image by Elizabeth Moss, University of Georgia,


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION: Sullivan, Janet. 1994. Taxodium mucronatum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Update: On 6 February 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: Montezuma baldcypress to: Montezuma bald cypress. The image and map were also added.
ABBREVIATION: TAXMUC SYNONYMS: Taxodium montezumae Decaisne [12] T. mexicanum Carr. [12] SCS PLANT CODE: TAMU COMMON NAMES: Montezuma bald cypress ahuehuete pentamon cipres sabino yucu-ndatura TAXONOMY: The currently accepted scientific name for Montezuma bald cypress is Taxodium mucronatum Ten. (family Taxodiaceae) [10,12]. There are no accepted infrataxa. Montezuma bald cypress differs from its congener bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) primarily by the presence of a needlelike point (a mucro) on the megasporophylls (female cone scales) [4]. LIFE FORM: Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: In the United States, Montezuma bald cypress is known only from the Rio Grande Valley in Cameron and Hidalgo counties of extreme southern Texas. It is common and widespread in Mexico [10,12].
Distribution of Montezuma bald cypress. 1971 USDA, Forest Service map digitized by Thompson and others [21].
   FRES32  Texas savanna


   14  Great Plains


235 Cottonwood-willow 


Montezuma bald cypress occurs in the riparian zone of a desert shrub
community along the Rio Grande.  The riparian zone includes black willow
(Salix nigra), Texas ebony (Pithecellobium flexicaule), and mesquite
(Prosopis glandulosa).  The upland area includes sotol (Dasylirion
texanum), catclaw mimosa (Mimosa aculeaticarpa var. biuncifera), and 
blackbrush acacia (Acacia rigidula) [20].


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE: The wood of Montezuma bald cypress is reported by Standley [12] as soft and weak. According to Elias [5], however, it is hard and durable. Montezuma bald cypress wood is used in Mexico for fine furniture and general construction [12]. The wood of its congener, bald cypress, is widely recognized for its durability [18]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Specific information on the value of Montezuma bald cypress for wildlife is lacking in the English language literature. Bald cypress and pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens) form characteristic groves in swampy areas that support complex and variable ecosystems, and are used by many wildlife species [3]. PALATABILITY: NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: Montezuma bald cypress is being planted along the banks of the Rio Grande in an effort to restore natural ecosystems on sites that were cleared for agriculture [2,16]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Montezuma bald cypress is planted as an ornamental [4,12]. It is an important medicinal plant and may have been considered sacred by some Mexican civilizations. A gummy resin produced after the tree is wounded was used to cure skin diseases, wounds, ulcers, gout, and toothaches by the Aztecs; some of these uses continue in popular practice. Pitch produced by burning woodchips in a reducing atmosphere was used as a cure for bronchitis. The leaves were used as a relaxant and a cure for itching. The bark was used as a diuretic and an emmanagogue (an agent promoting menstruation) [4,12]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Montezuma bald cypress occurs on the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge. Many seedlings are being planted there as part of an ecosystem restoration project [2,16]. Montezuma bald cypress was heavily utilized for timber for the construction of both Tenochtitlan and for Mexico City. Continuing demands for timber and charcoal have decimated natural groves [4]. Seedlings are subject to herbivory by rodents; greenhouses have to be rodent-proofed. Rabbits will gnaw the bark of outplanted seedlings and saplings [2].


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Montezuma bald cypress is a large, native, semideciduous to evergreen tree [2,4,12]. Mature height usually ranges from 60 to 100 feet (18-30 m), but the oldest trees can be much taller: a record height of 170 feet (51.8 m) has been reported for the Tree of Montezuma (Chapultepec Park, Mexico City) which was estimated as 700 years old [12]. The Montezuma bald cypress is better known for its massive, convoluted trunk than for its height. El Arbor del Tule (Oaxaca, Mexico), an individual at least 1,000 years old and possibly much older, is more than 50 feet (15 m) in diameter and has a circumference of 117.6 feet (35.84 m). Perimeter measures that include the bays and promontories of the buttressed trunk exceed 150 feet (45 m) [8]. Montezuma bald cypress has a broad, spreading crown with strong, horizontal branches and delicate, weeping branchlets. The leaves are 0.24 to 0.48 inch (6-12 mm) long. The staminate strobili are borne in long, slender spikes. The ovulate cones are subglobose and 0.59 to 0.98 inch (1.5-2.5 cm) in diameter. The bark is shreddy. The roots of trees growing in standing water often send up conical projections ("knees") [12]. Trees that experience periodic drying out, such as those growing along stream courses, apparently do not form knees [2]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES: Montezuma bald cypress reproduces primarily by seed. Seeds are released upon cone ripening, and germinate as soon as moisture conditions permit. The seeds are only viable for a short period of time. No special treatment is needed for greenhouse germination [2]. No vegetative reproduction has been reported for Montezuma bald cypress, although bald cypress will produce stump sprouts. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Montezuma bald cypress usually occurs on moist soils along streams, or on low, poorly drained sites [2,5]. It is drought tolerant when established; colonies of Montezuma bald cypress grow along seasonally dry stream courses in the lower Sonoran Desert in Mexico [4]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: NO-ENTRY SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: The staminate and pistillate cones of Montezuma bald cypress open in February [15]. The cones of bald cypress ripen in October after flowering in March or April; it is likely that Montezuma bald cypress follows a similar pattern [18]. Montezuma bald cypress is often described as evergreen even though it normally sheds all of its leaves when new growth emerges in the spring. Leaflessness in the Texas populations is more often associated with drought and/or low temperatures rather than with season [2]. Other populations of Montezuma bald cypress may shed some or all of their leaves in the fall and remain leafless through the winter [4].


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Montezuma bald cypress usually occurs along stream courses, in habitats that are moist or at least seasonally flooded. Fires burning in adjacent savanna and scrublands may encroach on Montezuma bald cypress stands depending on moisture conditions. Bald cypress is easily injured by fire, particularly peat fires which can damage the roots [17]; it is likely that Montezuma bald cypress is similarly vulnerable to fire. FIRE REGIMES: Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY: Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum


SPECIES: Taxodium mucronatum
REFERENCES: 1. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434] 2. Best, C. 1994 [pers. comm] 3. Brown, Clair A. 1984. Morphology and biology of cypress trees. In: Ewel, Katherine Carter; Odum, Howard T., eds. Cypress swamps. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press: 16-24. [14780] 4. Deardorff, David. 1976. Plant portraits: Montezuma cypress. Lasca Leaves. 26(3): 79-81. [22220] 5. Elias, Thomas S. 1980. The complete trees of North America: field guide and natural history. New York: Times Mirror Magazines, Inc. 948 p. [21987] 6. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 7. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998] 8. Hall, Gustav W.; Diggs, George M., Jr.; Soltis, Douglas E.; Soltis, Pamela S. 1990. Genetic uniformity of El Arbol del Tule (the Tule Tree). Madrono. 37(1): 1-5. [22221] 9. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 10. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1975. Rare and local conifers in the United States. Conservation Research Rep. No. 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 25 p. [15691] 11. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 12. Standley, P. C. 1924. Trees and shrubs of Mexico. Contrib. U.S. Nat. Herb. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press; 23: 849-1312. [20916] 13. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 14. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 15. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 16. Vora, Robin S. 1992. Restoration of native vegetation in the lower Rio Grande Valley, 1984-87. Restoration & Management Notes. 10(2): 150-157. [20086] 17. Cypert, Eugene. 1961. The effects of fires in the Okefenokee Swamp in 1954 and 1955. American Midland Naturalist. 66(2): 485-503. [11018] 18. Wilhite, L. P.; Toliver, J. R. 1990. Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. baldcypress. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 1. Conifers. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 563-572. [13416] 19. Wade, Dale; Ewel, John; Hofstetter, Ronald. 1980. Fire in south Florida ecosystems. Gen. Tech. Rep. SE-17. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. 125 p. [10363] 20. Jahrsdoerfer, Sonja E.; Leslie, D. M., Jr. 1988. Tamaulipan brushland of the lower Rio Grande Valley of South Texas: description, human impacts, and management options. Biological Report 88(36). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 63 p. [22423] 21. Thompson, Robert S.; Anderson, Katherine H.; Bartlein, Patrick J. 1999. Digital representations of tree species range maps from "Atlas of United States trees" by Elbert L. Little, Jr. (and other publications). In: Atlas of relations between climatic parameters and distributions of important trees and shrubs in North America. Denver, CO: U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services (Producer). On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; FEIS files. [92575]

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