id your tree

Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Goldcrest

Monterey Cypress

photo – l. fowler

Soft and bright, the beautiful gold foliage will persist all year round making the Cypress a favorite in the garden. I use juvenile specimens in planters, transplanting them into the landscape as they mature. With an annual growth of 8 to 10 inches – mature specimens reach 7 to 8 feet tall and 4.5 feet wide. The feathery texture and lemon/lime color adds distinction and interest to the garden or landscape.

Not difficult to grow – the cypress require a well drained soil, but it is not to pick about the type of soil, and will accept neutral, acidic, or alkaline soil. They will thrive in USDA Zones 7 – 10. I have had luck with our 6 through 7 zone (micro-climates) here in Newhalem by placing cypress cultivars in protected beds and along buildings and sheltered by other plants and shrubs. Make sure that you have proper irrigation especially during the establishment years – water when soil is dry. As with all my landscape beds, apply a good Organic Slow Release Fertilizer seasonally, especially if the tree is placed in a container since nutrients are leached out with frequent watering.

As you can see in the photo above – the leaves are scale-like, arranged in opposite decussate pairs, and persist for three to five years. The seed cones are approx. 1.6 inches long, with globose or ovoid shape, and are comprised of 4 to 14 scales arranged in opposite decussate pairs. They are mature in 18 to 24 months after pollination. The seeds are small, with two narrow wings, one along each side of the seed.

Many of the species are adapted to forest fires and will hold onto their seeds for many years in closed cones until the parent trees are destroyed by fire or decline. The seeds are then released to colonize the bare, burnt ground.

photo – Swansons Nursery, Seattle
genera Cupressus

Considered a polyphyletic group as described by Carolus Linnæus, 1707 – 1778, Species Plantarum, 2nd edition, is one of several genera in Cupressaceae family that all share the common name cypress. It contains more species that attain very large size compared to any other gymnosperm family and its wood is valued for its sweet scent and resistance to decay. You can still see examples of C. sempervirens in the doors to St. Peter’s , Vatican City, Rome, which are still sound after 1,100 years of use. As with many other conifers, the extensive cultivation has led to a wide variety of forms, sizes and colors. Many species are grown as decorative trees in parks and, in Asia, around temples; in some areas, the native distribution is hard to discern due to extensive cultivation. A few species are grown for their timber, which can be very durable.

Old French cipres and that from Latin cyparissus, which is the latinization of the Greek κυπάρισσος (kypárissos).

photo – Singing Tree Gardens


Pol·y·phy·let·ic – (of a group of organisms) derived from more than one common evolutionary ancestor or ancestral group and therefore not suitable for placing in the same taxon.”the aschelminthes may be a polyphyletic grade”

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