Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

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

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Cupressaceae, Cypress Family

The Cupressaceae or Cypress are a conifer family. Conifers are botanically gymnosperms in characteristic and most are monecious trees and shrubs. The bark of some members of the Cypress family may be orange to reddish-brown, fibrous, furrowed, stringy, scaly or hard and square-cracked as in some species such as the Alligator Juniper. Leaves are simple, may persist for 3 or more years, typically whorled, alternate 2-ranked or opposite in 4 ranks. Leaves narrow, resinous, appressed or spreading, scalelike and pressed against the branchlets. Branchlets are often flattened. fruits are woody cones. Species are generally resinous and aromatic. The Cypress Family has well known fossil record that extends back to the Jurassic Period.

Worldwide, the largest genera in this family are the Junipers (Juniperus) with 75 species, the Cypress trees (Cupressus) with 19 species and the genus Callitris with 15 species.

There are many economically important species in this family and, among others, include Thuja, Cupressus, Callitris, and Juniperus. Plants are important as timber sources, landscape ornamentals and species with oils, resins and tannins.

The largest genus and most Important members of this family in the Southwest are the Junipers (Juniperus) with 31 species.

In North America, according to the USDA Plants Database, there are 19 genera with 72 accepted taxa overall in the Cypress family. World-wide, The Plant List identifies 32 plant genera with 166 accepted species names and a further 912 scientific plant names of infraspecific rank for the family.

The southwestern United States has approximately 36 species in the Cypress Family.

* Note; North American species formerly in genus Cupressus have been placed Hesperocyparis, the western cypress.

Date Family Profile Completed: 06/05/2017, updated 06/12/2017
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 all genera cited above - (accessed 06/08/2017).
The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 06/08/2017).
Frank D. Watson, James E. Eckenwalder, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 2 | 4. Cupressaceae Bartlett Redwood or Cypress Family; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
Wikipedia contributors, 'Hesperocyparis', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 October 2015, 16:06 UTC, [accessed 12 June 2017 ]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Callitris', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 13 April 2017, 22:15 UTC, [accessed 8 June 2017]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Cupressaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 June 2017, 18:14 UTC, [accessed 9 June 2017 ]
Wikipedia contributors, 'Gymnosperm', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 May 2017, 23:14 UTC, [accessed 9 June 2017 ]
"Family". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 9 Jun. 2017