Callitris canescens / Morrison's cypress pine

Callitris canescens, as described in 1959 by (Parlatore) Stanley Thatcher Blake (1910 – 1973), in Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland vol.70, no.39, is commonly known as Morrison's cypress pine, or scrubby cypress pine. The species name comes from the Latin word, canescent, referring to the waxy, green foliage.

Description. Morrison's cypress pine is an evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 20 feet (6 m) tall, typically with a short, branching trunk and a pyramidal to irregular crown of ascending, contorted branches.

  • Bark is gray in color, growing wrinkled at first, later becoming scaly and flaking.
  • Twigs are numerous and slender, with a round cross-section, measuring 0.24 to 0.28 inch (0.6 - 0.7 mm) in diameter, They are covered with appressed ...
  • ... leaves in alternating whorls of 3. They have a linear arrangement, each measuring 0.06 to 0.12 inch (1.5 - 3 mm) long by 0.04 inch (1 mm) wide, with stomata present only near leaf margins, and a granulate outer surface.
  • Pollen cones develop at the branchlet terminals. They are numerous, with ovoid shape, measuring 0.06 to 0.08 inch (1.5 - 2 mm) long, yellow-green in color, each with 9 to 12 microsporophylls.
  • Seed cones develop on the terminals of thickened twigs, growing solitary or aggregated, with globose shape, individually measuring 0.48 to 0.6 inch (12 - 15 mm) in diameter, colored light brown, turning gray, with 2 alternate whorls of 3 scales
    bearing almost entirely included bracts, with ...
  • ... 3 to 6 blackish brown seeds per scale.

Distribution. This species is native to Australia — western Australia and south Australia, where one can find it growing at elevations of 820 to 1,250 feet (250 - 380 m) above sea level, on varied soils, in a summer-dry climate. Commonly found in kwongan (dwarf scrubland) with species of Myrtaceae and Proteaceae shrubs, or in mallee scrub with with Acacia, Eucalyptus and other Proteaceae; often on disturbed sites such as rights-of-way.

Horticultural notes. Cold hardy to USDA Zone 10 (30 to 40ºF / 4.4 to -1.1ºC). Thrives in Mediterranean and warmer semi-arid steppe climates.

Attribution from: Aljos Farjon' A Handbook of the World's Conifers; ©2010, Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, The Netherlands.

Callitris canescens — a closeup of foliage and seed cones.
Photo by Kevin Theile, via Wikipedia Commons, CC by SA 2.0
Callitris canescens growing in Nature in Western Australia.
Photo by William Archer, courtesy of