Notable Plants

Cupressus sempervirens – Italian Cypress

Cupressus sempervirens Closeup


  • Height: 60′
  • Spread: 10-30′
  • Planted by: Temple in 1840s
  • Family: Cupressaceae
  • Synonyms
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Cupressus sempervirens TreeA dense evergreen columnar tree often used as a screen or formal framing element in the garden. Leaves are scale-like and overlap one another covering the woody stem. Cupressus are coniferous meaning cone bearing. The cones are either male or female the later getting as large as 1.5” in diameter. The immature cones appear to have multiple shields that are staggered but held so closely together as to always be touching. The center of each shield comes to a point. When very young they are green though quickly developing an almost papery tan skin that the green can still be seen through if one takes the time to do that sort of thing. Each shield is capable of producing multiple seeds, which takes two years to ripen. At that point the shield contracts opening away from one another allowing the seeds to fall. The woody cones are now a deep chocolate brown that weathers to gray. The flat seeds are held tight against the shield and covered in a lightweight papery covering, which helps them flutter to their final destination.

The bark is stringy and when exposed will weather into a soft gray color, showing a rich red tone when the winter rains come until they dry again. The tree is susceptible to a devastating disease called Coryneum canker.

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