A baldcypress broom: no not a description of my hairstyle. Secrest Arboretum Curator Jason Veil and moi were at the Harper's Collection of Dwarf Conifers at Hidden Lake Gardens of Michigan State University this past weekend. We of course looked at the Taxodium distichum ‘Secrest’ cultivar, but Jason also called me over to a lovely ‘Cody’s Feathers’ specimen, and pointed out what I certainly did not know – that it was originally spotted outside the Wayne County Hospital in Wooster.
Who ya gonna call? Well, how about he who found it there, lo a decade and a half ago: Bill Bargar of Wadsworth, a longtime member and website and newsletter writer for the American Conifer Society. We called Bill for background and a few wonderful pictures.
“Witch’s brooms” are strange, condensed, short-internode proliferation of shoots within the more typical growth of the plant, in this case a baldypress. Many factors can cause broom-like growth but if caused by stable factors (such as a stable genetic mutation), then horticulturists see if they can usher a new version of the plant into the plant-lover world.
Bill who collected this broom, propagated it, and had it registered as a unique variant, the cultivar ‘Cody’s Feathers’, the cultivar name arising from his son’s description of the appearance of the feathery growth. Bill then grafted the cuttings to a compatible baldcypress rootstock.
This cultivar differs from other baldcypress brooms in its habit: as Jason describes it ‘Cody’s Feathers’ has a dense, shrub-like rounded habit that is unique. You can see this in Jason’s pictures from Hidden Lake. Bill’s images include a mature specimen at J.C. Raulston Arbortum at North Carolina State University, and the deep bronze-red color of foliage, highlighted in contrast to the blue-green cones.