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Arizona Cypress Cupressus arizonica


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Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Medium-sized evergreen tree with a conic to ovoid-conic crown. Foliage grows in dense sprays, varying from dull gray-green to bright glaucous blue-green in color. Leaves are scale-like, 2-5 mm long, and produced on rounded (not flattened) shoots. Seed cones are globose to oblong, 15-33 mm long, with 6 or 8 (rarely 4 or 10) scales, green at first, maturing gray or gray-brown about 20–24 months after pollination. Cones remain closed for many years, only opening after the parent tree is killed in a wildfire, thereby allowing the seeds to colonize the bare ground exposed by the fire. Male cones are 3-5 mm long, and release pollen in February-March.

Dimensions Height: 12-21 m. (40-70')
Diameter: 0.3-0.6 m. (1-2').

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Mountains.

Range California, Southwest, Texas.

Discussion Arizona Cypress, particularly the strongly glaucous var. glabra, is widely cultivated as Christmas or an ornamental tree. Unlike Monterey Cypress, it has proved highly resistant to cypress canker, caused by the fungus Seiridium cardinale, and growth is reliable where this disease is prevalent.

There are five varieties, treated as distinct species by some botanists:
Cupressus arizonica var. arizonica, Arizona Cypress - secure. Southern Arizona, southwest New Mexico, south to Durango and Tamaulipas, Chisos Mountains of west Texas.
Cupressus arizonica var. glabra, Smooth Arizona Cypress - secure. Central Arizona.
Cupressus arizonica var. montana (C. montana), San Pedro Martir Cypress - Vulnerable. Sierra Ju·rez and San Pedro M·rtir pine-oak forests of Northern Baja California.
Cupressus arizonica var. nevadensis (C. nevadensis), Piute Cypress - Least Concern. Southern California (Kern County and Tulare County).
Cupressus arizonica var. stephensonii, Cuyamaca Cypress - Critically endangered. Southern California (San Diego County). Most of this population was burnt in the October 2003 Cedar Fire, though (as expected for a fire-climax species) subsequent regeneration has been good.