Thursday, October 24, 2013

Uses For Cypress Root Wood

You can use the knees of cypress root systems for small projects.

Cypress wood has long been valued as timber that is highly resistant to decay; however, its use as lumber is on the decline due to the extremely slow growth of the tree. There are two subspecies, bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and pond cypress (Taxodium ascendens), which have roots that are usable for small projects. These cypress subspecies have a unique root system that produces above ground or above water "knees," which have the appearance of smaller trunks. These knees, growing between 1 and 12 feet tall, have a variety of uses.

Use of Knees in Nature

Experts debate how bald cypress and pond cypress trees use the knees in nature, according to FloriData. One theory is that these root protrusions provide the tree with extra oxygen to aid in tree growth. Another theory is that the knees provide extra support for the tree. This theory appears to have merit, because bald cypress and pond cypress tend to grow in watery areas, such as swamps, where the soil does not have optimal strength.

Ornamental Carving

The knees of the cypress root system are ideal for small, ornamental carvings. Popular items to carve include whimsical figures like gnomes, wizards and small animals. The carving techniques for cypress knees are very similar to those necessary for carving other woods, such as basswood or white pine. The cypress knees' golden color and conspicuous growth rings can also lend additional flair to carving projects.


Because cypress knees originate in aquatic settings, the wood is naturally water-resistant. This makes cypress knees ideal to decorate aquariums and provide cover for fish. Hollow cypress knees also make a nice breeder cave for aquarium fish. The knees, however, will float unless they are weighted or boiled.

Tags: cypress knees, bald cypress, pond cypress, bald cypress pond, cypress pond