Swamp Cypress. Taxodium distichum
The swamp cypress is a deciduous conifer. Unlike other cypresses it loses its leaves in winter. In spring it is a tall spire covered in a haze of pale green leaves which turn reddish brown in autumn. It comes from America and as you would expect, often grows in swamps where its roots appear above ground, and are known as knees.
There is a fine one in Dulwich Park, on the right hand side just inside the College Road Gate. There are two dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostrobides) on the opposite side of the carriageway which are very similar to the swamp cypress. One way of distinguishing them is by the leaflets which are alternate on the swamp cypress and opposite each other on the redwood. There was, until recently an old and dying Swamp Cypress in the Dulwich Picture Gallery garden which was once magnificent. People felt sentimental about it but it was finally felled in October. It is hoped that either a bench or a sculpture may be made from the timber. There is a new one in memory of David Halsey, a Friend of the Gallery, been planted nearby. Yet another swamp cypress is to be found in Belair, to the right of the entrance.
There will be profiles of other interesting Dulwich trees in future editions.