Cypress Wood & Lumber - Specialty Lumber Services & Custom Kiln Services | Marungouin Louisiana (LA)

About Cypress Lumber

Cypress Wood & Lumber - Specialty Lumber Services & Custom Kiln Services | Marungouin Louisiana (LA)

....Our Cypress has the richest color and tightest grain of any Cypress available on today's commercial market.   Read on to find out why !

Taxodium distichum is the scientific name for Baldcypress, the commercially harvested "Cypress" that grows all along the Gulf Coast and prospers in damp, marshy, tidal areas.  It grows  as far north  as the mid-continent states where it is found along streams and in lowland areas.  In the late 1800's the country needed lumber for homes, businesses and industrial uses, and Cypress was discovered by major lumber producers.  The largest and most famous Cypress sawmill was Frank B. Williams Lumber in Patterson, Louisiana, about two hours south of where our operation is today.

Huge Cypress forests once dominated low-lying areas of Louisiana with stands of trees that had thousands of board feet per acre.  Some say the trees were as thick as "hair on a dogs back."  The average tree size was three to four feet in diameter, but some Cypress trees that were as much as 700 years old were five to six feet across. 

Cypress growing in swamps tended to have a richer, redder color than Cypress trees growing on more upland sites.  Thus, the name "Tidewater Red" was coined for Cypress that had reddish colored heartwood.  Cypress growing on less moist sites tended to be called "Yellow Cypress".  The same species of Cypress that grows in Louisiana is known to the locals is South Carolina as "Lowland Cypress."  We call ours "Deep Swamp",  named for where it grows.  Thus, there is occasional confusion in the marketplace today when customers ask for Cypress by one of the various names that has developed across the last hundred years.  All commercial Cypress is Baldcypress - it's all the same species.  There is one minor species called Pond Cypress, but these are scrub trees with no commercial value found mostly in Florida.

Rich Color of Louisiana Cypress

In recent years, through technology, we learned that the rich color in Louisiana Cypress results from our ground water having a higher than average salt content.  As ground water is sucked up into Cypress tress through transpiration, the water radiates through the millions of microscopic channels running all through the wood of the tree.   As Cypress trees age,  salt in this water reacts with natural organic chemicals in the heartwood, giving the wood a rich color with reddish streaks.  South Louisiana has a higher than average salt content in its ground water because this area was under the sea 30,000 years ago.  Thus, Cypress from  South Louisiana  has a richer appearance than Cypress grown in the northern part of the state, or from Texas, Tennessee or anywhere else.  

Close grain of Louisiana Cypress

Damp ground in South Louisiana restricts the growth rate of Cypress because trees growing in wet conditions are sometimes starved of oxygen and do not grow as fast.  Cypress knees that can sometimes be seen protruding above the water line are the main source of  oxygen for such trees, without which the tree growth would stagnate.  The result of this slow growth is beneficial to the production of high quality wood, producing tighter ( meaning closer) growth rings and denser wood.  A tree that grows more slowly has more growth rings per inch, and growth rate of the wood is one of the key marks of quality wood.  The famous Louisiana architect, the late A. Haas Town, once said he always specified Cypress that had at least 25 growth rings per inch, a mark of old growth virgin cypress.  Today, old growth Cypress is very difficult to find, and it is almost always wood that has been Reclaimed.  It is also expensive due to the local demand for  antique Cypress millwork in fine homes across the Gulf Coast.

The bottom line is that Cypress from our mill has tighter growth rings and richer color than most any other Cypress because much of it comes from lowland areas of Louisiana that were once under the sea.  Even though our Cypress may not have 25 rings per inch, it has tighter growth rings and richer color than Cypress from other parts of the country.  Fifteen rings per inch is not uncommon for our Cypress, and when combined with our milling, our Cypress products are investments that will enrich the beauty and enhance the value of your home. 

Harvesting Cypress in the Early Days 

Harvesting Cypress from the swamp has never been easy due to damp ground conditons.  Cypress complicates the process further because Cypress is heavier than water, and a fresh cut log will not float.   Therefore,  in the early days before mechanization,  loggers developed a process whereby they would "girdle" Cypress trees in the fall of the year when one could actually walk among the trees on dry ground.   Girdling meant cutting a notch completely around the tree, deep enough to be sure the tracheids ( long tiny tubes ) that channeled water from the roots to the needles were completely severed,  denying the tree of  water.  This killed the tree,  but since green Cypress wood has such a high moisture content, it would take one to two years for the needles to suck enough water out of the tree so they would float after they were cut down. 

Rafting Cypress Logs to the Mills  

When the loggers determined the Cypress trees were dry enough to float, they would cut them down and trim them up.  With spring rains and river overflow,  loggers would float the logs and make up log rafts tied together with chains.  Then, moving these rafts out into navigable bayous,  the rafts were destined for one of the Cypress mills. 

Sinker Cypress 

Cypress logs that did not float were left in the forest.  Also left were any logs that exhibited signs of being "pecky" on the end of the log, as well as any log that had visible defects such as lightning strikes or shake.   At that time, Pecky Cypress lumber was considered undesirable to use and was given away or burned due to lack of a market.   Sometimes,  Cypress logs broke loose from the log rafts and these were lost.  Today these logs are still being found, and this highly prized wood is called Sinker Cypress.  The sapwood ( the light colored wood next to the bark ) has long since rotted away, leaving only beautiful heartwood with its rainbow of colors.   Sinker Cypress is virgin Cypress wood from the original forest.  It is common for sinker logs to have defects such that, when the sinker log is sawn,  a fair percentage of the boards simply fall apart due to shake, a longitudinal separation of the wood caused by  these ancient trees swaying in hurricane winds for many generations.   Thus, the low recovery of solid usable wood from sinker logs makes the cost of sinker Cypress even higher.

Color of Sinker Cypress

  Sinker's natural appearance is the same as the original wood - red and gold color that varies from tree to tree -  and even varies within the same tree both in the depth of shade and in intensity.   Sinker logs that were buried or even mired in mud have a more interesting color variation from a greenish to blackish color.   These dark colors develop from the action of anaerobic bacteria which appear in areas of the log where oxygen is denied.  Sinker Cypress that is almost totally green and black is often called Black Cypress.    More often than not the wood from Sinker logs is a varied mixture of red, gold, green and black with streaks and blends of these colors throughout the log, making it one of the most prized of all woods.  See Cypress Products. 

Pecky Cypress 

Pecky is characterized by small tunnels,  about the size of one's finger,  that run with the grain of the wood.    The tunnels are caused by a fungus of the genus Stereum that attacks the heartwood of living Cypress trees.  Stereum is specific to Cypress only, and when the trees are harvested and sawn into lumber, the fungus dies.    The resulting tunnels that are exposed when the  boards are sawn give the lumber the name Pecky Cypress.  For more information see details in the Cypress Products section. 

Cypress in the 21st Century 

Today,  Cypress grows in abundance across the Gulf Coast and in hardwood bottomlands, and it is desired for its beauty and longevity.  Though none of the second growth Cypress can be called the "wood eternal" like its virgin predecessor,  Cypress heartwood is still one of the most durable woods that can be purchased on the commercial market.   Trees from which comes the majority of our Cypress range in age from 100 to 150 years.  Combining the heart content and rich color with the tight grain that comes from slow tree growth in wet ground conditions,   wood from the swamps of South Louisiana is the finest Cypress you can purchase anywhere. 

Cypress Wood & Lumber - Specialty Lumber Services & Custom Kiln Services | Marungouin Louisiana (LA)

Cypress Wood & Lumber, Inc.
  • P.O. Box 70 - Maringouin, Louisiana 70757
  • Phone: 225-625-2396
  • Fax: (225) 625.2356
  • Email:
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