Bald cypress (so called because it drops its leaves in winter) is not a true cypress at all, but a close relative of the redwoods. Young trees have a pyramidal form typical of conifers. As they mature, some individuals undergo a radical change in form, abandoning most of their lower limbs as the upper trunk divides and branches to form a flat, fan-shaped crown. Artist Vaughn Banting studied the natural form for years before attempting to duplicate it in a bonsai. This is one of the original two trees he used to develop the “flat top” style of bonsai design. He began in 1972 with a 5 foot tall nursery plant, and spent the next fifteen years reducing it and developing it into an extraordinarily accurate image of a natural tree.