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Monday, April 28, 2014

Cupressus arizonica - Arizona Cypressus

The Arizona cypress is/was a commonly planted tree that seems to have lost favor but should be reconsidered due to its drought tolerance. They make good screens, but get a little big for a narrow yard after years. Growing to a height of 30-40' with a pyramidal to conical shaped crown generally dense and retaining its branches to the ground. Usually narrow when young, widening with age. 

This species has several botanical varieties or is considered to be highly variable species depending on your interest in the plant. If its not a favorite, just clump them together into one large variable species, or if you really love them split them into the four botanical varieties or even into different species. Taxonomy at its best. Hesperocyparis (Cupressus) arizonica var. glabra or Hesperocyparis (Cupressus) glabra. (All new world cypress have been moved to this new genus.)

The most widely planted variety is the bluish colored ones.  There is a cultivar names 'Blue Ice' that is popular, though I do not see many planted and I see very few young plants around. 






Leaves are opposite, decussate, very small (1.5- 2 mm), scale-like, bluish green in color due to a waxy coating that is variable in quantity, and distinct white spots which are bits of resin. Stems appear somewhat square.



Foliage clustered near the ends of the branches.



Rounded or slightly elongated cone, 3/4 - 1" diameter, peltate scales 6-8 pairs, with a slightly elongated horn on the back of the scales. Green when young, silver brown maturing in two years.



Bark is attractive but variable. Peeling flakes of gray giving way to red. 




Here is an older picture of the cultivar 'Blue Ice' in Spokane.



While I have not seen any in Santa Cruz, C. 'Raywood's Weeping', is one of may favorites.

Misidentification:
other Cupressus, or even a juniper for that matter. Look for the bluish foliage with resin drops, larger cone (eliminates junipers) and flaky bark.

Location:
Aptos
7300 Mesa Dr  2 large specimens.

Capitola
in the back yard of a house on Escalona, that you can see poking over the fence from Park Ave. Maybe eventually we will see them pretty well.

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