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Callitropsis macrocarpa

Callitropsis macrocarpa
Callitropsis macrocarpa
Callitropsis macrocarpa
Callitropsis macrocarpa

Thanks to Douglas Justice for writing today's entry. The photographs are from my recent trip to California. Douglas writes:

Up until 2006 and the publication of a paper by D. P. Little, the genus Cupressus L. was thought to be a northern Hemishere genus distributed roughly evenly (in numbers of species) between the Old and New Worlds. However, the New World cypresses (including Cupressus nootkatensis and the northern Vietnamese Cupressus vietnamensis) are now believed to be more closely related to the genus Juniperus than to the Old Word cypresses. You can read more about this change and the possibility of further name changes here.

Whatever name is applied to this species, it is a beautiful and iconic tree, forming huge, densely layered crowns with often picturesque twisted stems and braided bark. In the wild, it is known only from the Monterey Penninsula on the central California coast (see Cupressus macrocarpa on Wikipedia), but it is now very widely grown in horticulture. In gardens, it is primarily valued for its dark, dense foliage and fast growth for screens and windbreaks, but there are numerous mutant forms with a variety of branching and foliage effects (weeping, fastigiate, golden, etc.) and these appear to be extremely popular as specimen and accent plants. Despite the name, the cones of Callitropsis macrocarpa are not the largest of the cypresses. They are somewhat smaller than those of Callitropsis guadelupensis, a species from the island of Guadelupe, off the coast of Baja Cailfornia (and also smaller than those of the Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens). See a cone size comparison via Michael P. Frankis's wonderful cone collection.

Callitropsis macrocarpa grows well where winters are mild and there is plenty of humidity, tolerating wind and salt well, but the species doesn't fare well at all in areas with both high summer heat and humidity. Monterey cypress is the parent of the formidable Callitropsis × leylandii (C. nootkatensis × C. macrocarpa) (syn: ×Cupressocyparis leylandii), Leyland cypress, to which it lends considerable influence (most would be hard-pressed to guess the other parent from the appearance of this hybrid). Locally, both the species and its hybrids are susceptible to cypress tip moth (Argyresthia cupressella) and to cypress canker (Seiridium cardinale), but only where summers are hot (see this Australian fact sheet on cypress canker).

10 Comments

Picturesque doesn't begin to decribe these! it really is a major pain to be gardening in the Midwest......
Susanne

So the forum discussion you linked to mentions not all botanists support this nomenclature change. What's your rationale for accepting it?

The article is almost 2 years old and none of the gardens here have changed the name, so I'm curious as to how wide the support for the change is.

There is, if anything, more support for including all of them (including Nootka and Vietnamese Cypresses) in Cupressus - see e.g.:
Xiang, Qiaoping & Jianhua Li (2005). Derivation of Xanthocyparis and Juniperus from within Cupressus: Evidence from Sequences of nrDNA Internal Transcribed Spacer Region. Harvard Papers in Botany 9 (2): 375-382.
Mu Linchun, Wang Li, Yao Li, Hao Bingqing, & Luo Qin (2006). Application of pet G-trn P sequence to systematic study of Chinese Cupressus species, Front. Biol. China 4: 349-352.
Rushforth, K. (2007). Notes on the Cupressaceae in Vietnam, TC Sinh hoc (Vietnam J. Biol.) 29: (3): 32-39.

fine fine pictures
were you up in the hills with number one
clouds in the back ground perhaps

two is so much like a japanese wood cut

thank you all once again

There are a few of those trees up here along the Oregon coast, and they seem to be among the nicest tree forms to be seen.

Even without pruning.

Even the ones with some deadwood in your first image look marvelous.

The second photo reminds me of looking out at the Strait of Georgia while standing on Saturna Island (Winter Cove Park). Wonderful memory ~ thank you! Good look with the software transition.

If I remember correctly, there is a fantastic grove of Juniperus pugetensis (syn: J. scopulorum) in Winter Cove Park. Some are over 15m tall and clothed to the ground in deep green shoots. I mistook them for Thuja plicata! until I got close enough to inspect them properly. But perhaps this name (P. pugetensis) is as provocative as the one I posted above. Unfortunately, I don't have the reference at hand, but I remember it was a pretty compelling case for separating the populations in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound area from the rest of North America.

With respect to the taxonomic conclusions arrived at in the Little Callitropsis paper, I'll leave it to the those who can better judge the veracity of specific molecular and statistical techniques to determine whether there should be support for our (somewhat arbitrary) decision. And no, we haven't changed our labels in the garden. To be honest, Daniel and I thought that it might flush out a few more comments if we posted it the way we did. I'm always interested in a healthy debate about such things, and I'm certainly willing to adjust my thinking when a compelling argument is made.

Point Lobos is one of my absolute favorite places. Amazing botanical splendor on land that is matched, maybe surpassed, by the wonders in the water. I was once led by harbor seal to an underwater cave across Whaler's Cove from the parking lot there. And you can often see wading birds standing on top of the kelp fishing in the middle of the cove. And of course, there's the otters, and the deer, and the lupines, and the and the and the....

"If I remember correctly, there is a fantastic grove of Juniperus pugetensis (syn: J. scopulorum) in Winter Cove Park"

The juniper recently described from the Puget Sound area is Juniperus maritima: http://www.juniperus.org/AdamsPapersPDFFiles/203-Phyto89(3)263-283JmaritimaScopVirgPugSound.pdf (pdf file)

I live close to the native groves and they are some of the most stunning groves of trees I've seen, even competing with the redwoods or giant Sequoias in beauty. They have such a gnarled look about them, and their flattened crowns are unlike most of the other trees growing in California. It's no wonder Point Lobos gets called the "Crown Jewel of the California State Park system". I'm surprised you didn't mention the algae that grows on the trunks of the native grows closest to the sea. It is Trentepohlia aurea, and often pops in the darkest areas of the groves.

These are my favorite trees, but without sea spray to do natural pruning, they can get too branchy and I've seen specimens with lots of branches competing to be the leader. This doesn't always happen, and a lot of the trees grow much taller than the native groves do. There's one in Monterey that has to be close to 80 feet high with a very straight, tall trunk and flat crown of foliage at the top.

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