Cupressus macrocarpa / Monterey cypress

Cupressus macrocarpa, as described in 1849 by Karl Theodor Hartweg (1812–1871) ex George Gordon (1806–1879), in Journal of the Horticultural Society of London, 4th edition, is commonly known as Monterey cypress, as well as ciprés Monterrey in Spanish. The species name refers to this conifers large seed cones. Marcrocarpa translates in large-fruited in Latin.

Big tree. This species is one of the most massive of all trees in this genus. The largest known individual, measured in 1999, was 102 feet (31.1 m) tall, with a trunk 14 feet (4.3 m) wide, and a 116 foot (35.4 m) spread.

From <em>Manual of the Trees of North America </em>by Charles Sprague Sargent
From Manual of the Trees of North America by Charles Sprague Sargent

Description. Monterey cypress is an large growing, evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 82 feet (25 m) tall.

  • Crowns are generally broadly spreading, especially on exposed headlands.
  • Branching is fairly sparse, and is often composed of few major limbs from near the ground, but more upright in sheltered locations.
  • Bark is rough and fibrous.
  • Branchlets are decussate, measuring 0.06 to 0.08 inch (1.5 - 2 mm) in diameter.
  • Foliage either lacks stomatal glands or sometimes has inconspicuous, shallow, pit-like, abaxial glands that do not produce drops of resin. Foliage is generally not glaucous.
  • Pollen cones measure 0.16 to 0.24 inch (4 - 6 mm) by 0.1 to 0.12 inch (2.5 - 3 mm). Pollen sacs number 6 to 10.
  • Seed cones are oblong, measuring 1 to 1.6 inches (2.5 - 4 cm), colored grayish brown, not glaucous. They are comprised of 4 to 6 pairs of seed scales 4-6 pairs, and have smooth texture, with an umbo that is nearly flat at maturity.
  • Seeds mostly measure 0.2 to 0.32 inch (5 - 6 mm) and are dark brown in color, not glaucous.

native range of <em>Cupressus macrocarpa </em>
native range of Cupressus macrocarpa

Distribution. This species is native to USA — California, the Pacific Coast at Carmel (near Monterey), in two groves, at Cypress Point and Point Lobos. Due to its rarity, it is of conservation concern. It is much planted and commonly naturalized near the coast from central California north to Washington and in warm temperate and subtropical regions worldwide.

Hardy to USDA Zone 8 — cold hardiness limit between 10° and 20°F (-12.1° and -6.7°C).

Attribution from: James E. Eckenwalder, Cupressus. Flora of North America Editorial Committee (editors); Flora of North America North of Mexico, Vol. 2, ©1993, Oxford University Press.

Cupressus macrocarpa — a closeup of foliage and seed cones.
Photo by M. Ritter, C. Stubler, W. Mark and J. Reimer
Cupressus macrocarpa, growing in habitat over Carmel Bay, near Carmel River State Beach, California.
Photo by Harvey Barrison from Massapequa, NY, USA, CC by SA 2.0
The Lone Cypress, a landmark of California's 17-mile Drive.
Photo by Richard Wang, via Wikipedia Commons, CC by SA 3.0
Cupressus macrocarpa — a closeup of pollen cones.
Forest and Kim Starr via Wikipedia Commons, CC by SA 3.0
Cupressus macrocarpa — a closeup of foliage on a planted specimen near Elk, Mendocino County, California.
Photo by Dan Nickrent
Cupressus macrocarpa — a closeup of bark detail.
Photo by M. Ritter, C. Stubler, W. Mark and J. Reimer