Louisiana State Tree
Adoption of the Louisiana State Tree
From the earliest days of European settlement, Louisiana cypress trees served the people moving into the area. Cypress wood was beautiful. It was resistant to decay, a good thing in the humid Louisiana environment. It was used for caskets, water tanks, fortresses, ships and in the construction of homes and animal shelters.
Perhaps most importantly, the vast coastal cypress forests helped to protect the Louisiana coast from the ravages of violent storms and erosion of the coastline.
In the early 1960s, fourth graders from Jefferson Terrace Elementary School in Baton Rouge, led by their teacher Mrs. Juanita Sommers, decided that it was time for Louisiana to adopt an official state tree. Selected for its historical and economic importance to the state as well as its abundance and its aesthetic beauty, the fourth graders petitioned Louisiana legislators to add the cypress to Louisiana's list of official symbols and emblems.
The students planted a cypress tree on school grounds and enlisted expert support, including the Director of the Louisiana State University School of Forestry, Paul Burns.
A bill was crafted and passed through the Louisiana Legislature easily. Lt. Governor C.C. "Taddy" Aycock described legislator support as "35 ayes and one pine tree."
By legislative Act No. 49, the baldcypress was made the official state tree of the state of Louisiana on May 26, 1963.
Act No. 49 identifies the official tree as "baldcypress" ( Taxodium distichum), offering that the baldcypress is commonly known as the 'cypress" tree. Today, the tree is often referred to as the bald cypress.
The following information was excerpted from the Louisiana Revised Statutes, Title 49, Section 160.
TITLE 49 State administration
§160. State tree
The baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), commonly known as the "cypress" tree, is hereby designated and hereafter shall be known as the official state tree of the state of Louisiana.
Acts 1963, No. 49.
Source: Louisiana State Legislature, Louisiana Laws, (http://www.legis.state.la.us/lss/toc.htm), September 24, 2008.
Plant Profile for Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. (Bald cypress): USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Taxodium distichum, Common Baldcypress : University of Connecticut Plant Database.
Taxodium distichum, Baldcypress : Fact Sheet ST-620, October 1994. United States Department of Agriculture: Forest Service.
Baldcypress: Forestry Images, a joint project of The Bugwood Network, the USDA Forest Service, The University of Georgia - Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Dept. of Entomology.
Baldcypress: Virginia Tech Department of Forestry: College of Natural Resources.
The Nature of Things at Lake Martin: Exploring the Wonder of Cypress Island Preserve in Southern Louisiana , by Nancy Camel, 128 pages, Acadian House Publishing (April 12, 2006).
Southern Forested Wetlands: Ecology and Management, edited by Michael G. Messina and William H. Conner, 616 pages, CRC-Press; 1 edition (February 1, 1998).
Ecology of Tidal Freshwater Forested Wetlands of the Southeastern United States, by William H. Conner, 518 pages, Springer; 1 edition (August 17, 2007).
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