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Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Golden’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Golden’ (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

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Zone
Zones vary by species.
Full Sun
Full
Regular WaterMinimal Water
Moderate, Minimal

Cupressus

Cupressaceae
Evergreen, Trees

These conifers have tiny scalelike leaves that are closely set on cord-like branches and bear interesting globular, golf ball–size cones made up of shield-shaped scales. They need little pruning.

Cupressus arizonica
Cupressus arizonica

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Cupressus arizonica

Native to central Arizona, this 40-ft.-tall, 20-ft.-wide conifer is quite variable, with foliage running the range from green to blue gray or silvery. Bark is rough and furrowed.

C. a. glabra (often sold as C. glabra) is virtually identical to the species, but has smooth, cherry red bark.

Cupressus cashmeriana (photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers)
Cupressus cashmeriana (photo courtesy of San Marcos Growers)

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Cupressus cashmeriana

Native to Kashmir and Tibet. Striking, narrowly pyramidal tree, 40–60 ft. tall and 15–20 ft. wide. Main branches are upright but produce beautiful long, pendulous, flattened branchlets of aromatic blue-green foliage. Best with regular water. Not tolerant of strong winds or extreme heat.

Cupressus forbesii

Native to the coastal mountains of Southern California. Low-branching tree to 10–25 ft. tall and 20 ft. wide, with cherry red bark and green foliage. Very fast growing. In fact, it may get too top-heavy for the size of its root system; keep it on the dry side to slow growth, thus lessening the likelihood that the tree will topple in strong winds. Useful as a hedge or screen.

Cupressus macrocarpa

Native to California’s Monterey Peninsula. Beautiful tree to 40 ft. or taller, with rich bright green foliage. Narrow and pyramidal in youth, spreading as wide as high as it grows older; picturesque in age, especially in windy coastal conditions. Away from cool coastal winds, it is very subject to coryneum canker fungus, for which there is no cure. Look for foliage that first turns yellow, then deep reddish brown, and falls off slowly. Destroy infected trees. A fast-growing windbreak tree in coastal conditions. ‘Goldcrest’ (‘Lemon Yellow’) has yellowish green, lemon-scented foliage, stays conical to 30 ft. tall, and reportedly is more tolerant to inland conditions. ‘Wilma Goldcrest’, similar to and often confused with ‘Wilma’, appears to be like ‘Goldcrest’ but more compact to 15 ft. tall.

Cupressus sempervirens ‘Glauca’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)
Cupressus sempervirens ‘Glauca’ (photo courtesy of Laura Dunkin-Hubby)

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Cupressus sempervirens

Native to southern Europe and western Asia. The species has horizontal branches and dark green foliage, but variants such as ‘Stricta’ (‘Fastigiata’), columnar Italian cypress, and ‘Glauca’, blue Italian cypress (blue-green in color), are more common and are classic Mediterranean landscaping plants; both are dense, narrow trees to 60 ft. tall and 5–10 ft. wide at maturity. ‘Swane’s Golden’ is a narrowly columnar form with golden yellow new growth. ‘Tiny Tower’ is a slow, dense grower that reaches only 8 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide after 10 years; foliage is deep blue-green.

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