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Saturday, March 17, 2012

XCupressocyparis leylandii - Leyland Falsecypress

The Leyland cypress (falsecypress) is a very fast growing evergreen conifer to 50' by 15 - 20' wide,  often upright pyramidal to almost columnar. Primary lateral branches upright at about 45 degrees. Eventually becomes more open with age but is a tight screen when younger. Often pruned into a hedge. 

This is a pretty mature specimen showing the flattened branching habit typical of the hybrids.

Originally considered a hybrid between Cupressus macrocarpa and Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. The parents didn't change but their names, both of them, one several times. Now considered to be a hybrid of Cupressus as most taxonomists have put Chamaecyparis back into Cupressus as the foliage lasts 2 years instead of only 1. So it might be called Cupressus x lelayandii. Then again, with the discovery of a closely related new species in Vietnam Chamaecypris nootkatensis was moved to Xanthocyparis. But then someone noticed that the genus Callitropsis was overlooked in preference of Xanthocyparis making Callitropsis the proper name. Many taxonomists don't agree with this classification and prefer to keep Chamaecyparis with Cupressus.

So where does that leave this poor lost plant? Who knows. Taxonomists are rearranging the other half of the cross, Cupressus into 2 genera, old and new world species. As I mentioned in the post of our Monterey Cypress, it's name has changed to Hesperocyperus. So, while the big dogs battle this one out I am sticking with X Cupressocypris leylandii

Leaves are evergreen, scale like, tips free, dark green or bluish green about 1/16" long, in flattened narrow sprays, lasting 2 years before turning brown. You can see the leaves below how the tips spread out.

Here you can see how the leaves and branchlets are arranged in flattened sprays

Small inconspicuous male and female stroboli.

Rounded cone, 3/4' diameter, shiny brown at maturity with 4 sets of scales, each with a slight point in the center, maturing in 2 years

Cultivars are numerous, I have seen many in England where they are really popular. Yellows and blues mostly.  I have a great picture on my old school slides showing 3 in a group at the Botanical Garden in Cambridge.

Not recommend much anymore due to a couple of fast acting diseases.  Botrysopheria canker that causes cankers and dieback and Seiridium canker which looks similar but is usually accompanied by large amount of pitch.  

Misidentification: Yes, very likely around here, they are commonly mistaken for Monterey Cypress. The cones are much larger on our native, and the leaves are not as distinctly pointed and the lateral branches come off  in all directions rather than this one being in a flattened spray.

Location: Capitola: as seen from the freeway at the Park Ave exit surrounding the Capitola Knolls Condos.
East Cliff Village Shopping Center, on the east end of the parking lot, near where Tremont Drive enters the shopping center.

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