Cypress trees are the most common and most flood-tolerant of all wetland trees in Florida. Cypress trees grow along the edge of rivers, lakes and wetlands, often forming large swamps where the trees grow close together. The cypress tree is deciduous. This means that the cypress tree drops its needle-like leaves during the winter or dry season, appearing bare or even dead. Oftentimes, you'll find Spanish moss and other air plants, which are types of bromeliads, hanging from the cypress tree's branches. The base of a cypress tree is very wide, which helps the tree's root system support itself in the wet soil in which it grows. Some of these bases can be as much as 6 feet across! Around a cypress tree you will also notice brown stump-like points or "knees" sticking out of the ground. The knees are part of the tree's root system, but the exact function of the knees is not known. Some scientists have thought they may help in providing oxygen to the tree and assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil.
Southwest Florida Water Management District