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Arizona Cypress


SCIENTIFIC NAME: Cupressus arizonica
FAMILY: Cupressaceae

Arizona cypress is a native conifer of the southwestern states growing from Texas westward to California. It grows in association with many shrub, oak, juniper, pine and pinyon species in the canyons and mountains of this region. Several of these associated species like Douglas-fir, oneseed juniper, quail bush sumac and Fendler bush are found in Colorado’s mountains.

Hardiness Zones 5 to 7. It is recommended for some of the warmer parts of Utah and Colorado. It is generally found at elevations of 3,000 to 8,000 feet within its native range.

Growth habit Columnar pyramidal growth habit with dense foliage. Tree could grow to a height of 50 feet with a corresponding width of 10 to 20 feet in the urban forest. In its native range it can grow up to a height of 70 feet.

Foliage Attractive scale like foliage resembles that of the juniper. Color can vary from dull green to a silver blue.

Fruit Cones are found in clusters usually around ¾ to 1 inch in diameter. The seed is dispersed as the persistent cones desiccate on the tree. Seed requires bare mineral soil for germination.

Bark Young trees have long thin irregular scales that flake off. As bark flakes off it will reveal a cherry-red color. As tree matures the bark is slightly furrowed.

Twigs Have a nearly right angled arrangement on the branch.

Insects and diseases Pests have not been observed on Colorado planted material. In the native habitat pests include mistletoe, rusts and defoliating insects.

Landscape value Tree is suitable for either acidic or alkaline soils. Specimens have been growing in Boulder, Denver and Grand Junction for at least ten years and appear to be thriving. A few Colorado nurseries have begun carrying this tree after locating seed sources from cold hardy sites within its native range. Tree is grown commercially for Christmas trees.

Information sources
USDA Forest Service, Fire Effects Information System Database
Elbert L. Little, The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees — Western Region