Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cupressus (= Hesperocyparis) arizonica, Arizona Cypress

Arizona Cypress is a handsome pyramid-shaped conifer that grows in the southwestern United States. It can reach a height of 70 feet and 15 to 20 feet wide. Cupressus arizonica (= Hesperocyparis arizonica) Arizona Cypress is a gymnosperm and has now flowers. The seed cones are nearly globose, blue or blue-gray and remain on the branches several years after the seeds have fallen. Cupressus arizonica (= Hesperocyparis arizonica) Arizona Cypress occurs in a variety of habitats including canyon riparian associations which include a few typically riparian species such as Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Fremont Cottonwood, (Populus fremontii) and Arizona Walnut (Juglans major). Cupressus arizonica (= Hesperocyparis arizonica) Arizona Cypress is drought-tolerant, aromatic and often very attractive. It is cultivated in the southern United States as an ornamental and for windbreaks. In some parts of the southwest it is grown as a Christmas tree. This species has also been used in the past locally for rough construction and fencepost. Cupressus arizonica (= Hesperocyparis arizonica)
Group: Gymnosperm

Scientific Name: Cupressus arizonica (= Hesperocyparis arizonica)
Common Name: Arizona Cypress
Also Called: Rough-bark Arizona Cypress (Spanish: Sabino, Cedro, Ciprés, Táscate)
Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress Family
Synonyms: (Callitropsis arizonica, Cupressus arizonica, Cupressus arizonica subsp. arizonica, Cupressus arizonica var. bonita, Hesperocyparis arizonica, Neocupressus arizonica)
Status: Native
Duration: Perennial
Size: Up to 70 feet tall more or less, 15 to 20 feet wide; circumference max to 5.5 feet.
Growth Form: Tree; pyramid-shaped tree; trunk branches near the ground or is well developed; plants becoming shrubby when subject to fires, crown conic initially, becoming broadly columnar, dense; bark smooth initially but may become rough, furrowed or fibrous, rarely checkered; mature specimens with smooth bark previously known as Smooth-bark Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica subsp. arizonica); branchlets decussate.
Leaves: Green, gray-green to blue-green; small, scale-like, flattened against the branchlets; with glands that produce drop of resin; evergreen.
Flower Color: Non-flowering species; cones only; gymnosperm; seed cones nearly globose with woody scales that separate at maturity, persistent on the branches several years after the seeds have fallen; seeds numerous.
Flowering Season: November to March for cone development; non-flowering gymnosperm.
Elevation: 3,000 to 7,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Variable; Canyon bottoms, pinyon-juniper woodland and chaparral communities.
Recorded Range: Arizona Cypress is found in the southwestern United States in; AZ, CA, NM, NV, TX, UT. It is also native to Baja California and northern Mexico.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Cupressus arizonica; (=Hesperocyparis arizonica).

U.S. Weed Information: No information available.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No information available.
Wetland Indicator: No information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: In North America, Arizona Cypress, Cupressus arizonica is "Protected as a Cactus, Yucca or Christmas Tree" by the State of Nevada.

Genus Information: In North America there are 15 species and 15 accepted taxa overall for Hesperocyparis. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 20 species names for Hesperocyparis, all synonyms of Cupressus.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas and Utah have 1 species of Hesperocyparis, California has 11 species. All data is approximate and subject to taxonomic changes.

Comments: Arizona Cypress is drought-tolerant, aromatic and often very attractive. It is cultivated in the southern United States as an ornamental and for windbreaks. In some parts of the southwest it is grown as a Christmas tree. This species has also been used in the past locally for rough construction and fencepost. Bark texture is not a clear characteristic to distinguish geographic varieties as within the species as a whole there is complete inter gradation between bark types.

Type species of Cupressus arizonica is from near Clifton, Arizona; (Green in 1880).

Arizona Cypress occurs in a variety of habitats. One such habitat is canyon riparian associations which include a few typically riparian species such as Arizona Sycamore (Platanus wrightii), Fremont Cottonwood, (Populus fremontii) and Arizona Walnut (Juglans major).

For a comprehensive thoroughly documented review of Cupressus arizonica see the USDA USFS Fire Effects Information System, or FEIS.

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: California Juniper, Juniperus californica, Redberry Juniper, Juniperus coahuilensis, Alligator Juniper Juniperus deppeana, Oneseed Juniper, Juniperus monosperma and Utah Juniper, Juniperus osteosperma.

California Juniper has been used as an analgesic and other important medicinal purposes by southwestern United States indigenous peoples.

  • Kawaiisu Drug, Analgesic; Decoction of dried seeds taken for sore chest.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Cough Medicine; Decoction of dried seeds taken for coughing.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Gynecological Aid; Hot or cold infusion of cones taken for menstruation problems.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Kidney Aid; Hot or cold infusion of cones taken for kidney problems.
  • Kawaiisu Drug, Orthopedic Aid; Hot or cold infusion of cones taken for backaches.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 06/25/2017
    References:
    Arizona Flora, Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 06/24/2017)
    https://plants.usda.gov/java/ClassificationServlet?source=profile&symbol=HESPE5&display=31
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; http://www.theplantlist.org/ (accessed 06/24/2017).
    Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Hesperocyparis arizonica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer).
    Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2017, June 24].
    Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013). Published on the Internet http://www.wildflower.org/plants/ [accessed: 06/24/2017]. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
    http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=HEAR22
    James E. Eckenwalder,FNA | FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 2 | Cupressaceae | Cupressus 1. Cupressus arizonica Greene, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club. 9: 64. 1882. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Bartel, Jim A. 1994. Vascular Plants of Arizona: Cupressaceae. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 27, 195-200.
    http://canotia.org/vpa_volumes/VPA_JANAS_1994_Vol27_2_Bartel_Cupressaceae.pdf
    SEINet synonyms, scientific names, geographic locations, general information - (accessed 06/24/2017).
    http://swbiodiversity.org/seinet/