The bald cypress tree is a big part of the Jamestown story. It is a deciduous conifer that thrives along Jamestown Island’s shores and in its marshes. Virginia Indians used the trees for their dugout canoes. These trees can live more than a thousand years and are one of the few conifers that shed their needles in the fall. Dendrochronologists (scientists who study tree rings) have taken core samples from these long-lived trees near Jamestown to study the past environment. They learned that the area’s worst drought in the past 770 years was from 1606 to 1612, which had huge implications for the English colonists arriving in 1607.
“Oke, is the chiefe wood; of which there is great difference in regard of the soyle where it groweth. firre, pyne, walnut, chesnut, birch, ash, elme, cypresse, ceder, mulberrie, plumtree, hazell, saxefrage, and many other sorts.”
-Captain John Smith