See the "Taxonomic notes" section of Cupressus arizonica for discussion of the relationship between various taxa assigned by some authors to C. arizonica. See the "Taxonomic notes" section of Cupressus for a discussion of the relationship between this and other, closely related Cupressus taxa in northwest Mexico and the adjacent Southwest U.S.
Trees to 10 m tall and 60-80 cm dbh with a straight trunk, slender when young, developing a deep pyramidal crown, branching stiffly and obtusely. Bark red-brown when young, sometimes exfoliating, with age becoming red-brown, fibrous, 1-2 cm thick. Branchlets about 20 mm long, 1-1.5 mm thick, quadrangular. Foliage glaucous, only faintly aromatic when crushed, leaves 2 mm long, acute, keeled with an active abaxial resin gland that is conspicous even on the youngest leaves. Leaf margins fimbriate-ciliate at 10X magnification. Occasionally, short-lived leaves 3-4 × 8-12 mm form. Pollen cones abundant, shedding pollen in February and March, cones 3-5 mm long, composed of (10-)12(-16) scales each bearing 5-6 pollen sacs. Seed cones 20-30 mm long, ovoid to globose, composed of 6-8 scales with pointed conical umbos, borne on a 2-3 × 10-15 mm peduncle, solitary on branchlet tips, usually in aggregations of 15-25 cones along 10-20 cm of a larger branch, brown in first year, maturing to silver-gray in the second year and remaining closed for several years. Seeds light tan, to 5 mm long with a 0.5 × 2 mm hilum, echinate or slightly glaucous. Seedlings with 4-5 linear, flattened, blunt cotyledons 15 mm long (Wolf 1948).
USA: California: Kern County: the drainage of Bodfish Creek, and, at 4000 feet, on Red Hill in the Paiute Mountains (Peattie 1950), where it grows at elevations of 5000-6000 feet with Juniperus californica, Pinus sabiniana, P. monophylla and Ephedra viridis (Abrams 1919). It is also planted in the region as an ornamental; the tree shown at left was planted in a highway rest area, and I have also seen them planted in yards, parks, and highway facilities elsewhere in southern California. Regeneration is some such sites indicates that the tree may be naturalizing in an extended range.
Height 14 m, dbh 93 cm, crown spread 9 m; also height 10 m, dbh 100 cm, crown spread 12 m; both in Sequoia National Forest, CA (American Forests 2000).
"Like most of the native Cypresses, this one has long been used by the ranchers in the vicinity for fence posts, since it lasts for years in contact with the soil" (Peattie 1950).
Herbarium collections have been made in the following locales: 1) Piute Mountain Kernville Quad., Piute Mountain Elevation: 4500 ft; 2) Greenhorn Mountains at 3850 ft, about 5.8 mi E of and below the Greenhorn Summit Store along the Old Kernville Road, then about 0.2 mi to the right along a side road to a creek that heads below the store; 3) Greenhorn Mountains, Black Mt., 4200 ft, just about 5 mi below (E of) the Greenhorn Summit Store in a dry, rocky gully that slopes S from the rocky S side of Black Mt. along the Old Kernville Road; 4) 3000 ft in oak woodland near Bodfish at the base of Piute Mt.; 5) Piute Lookout, Piute Peak about 2.5 mi e of its junction along road from Havilat-Bodfish summit to Piute Mountains, Red Hill 5000 ft. The largest grove covers the north face of Bald Eagle Peak in Kern County, California (Lanner 1999). This area has been preserved as the Bodfish Piute Cypress Botanical Area; a map is HERE, and see Sheehey (2006) for more information on how to get there.
This cypress was discovered in 1907 by Mrs. Leo Polkinghorn, but it took until 1915 for Leroy Abrams to inspect specimens forwarded by Mrs. Polkinghorn and to visit the grove she described (Abrams 1919).
"Leroy Abrams ... drove south along the road between Bodfish and Havilah for about 3 miles to the summit of a grade, then turned off on an unsurfaced clay road ... for 2 1/2 miles. And there he came upon thousands of specimens of this conical tree, its foliage in summer, when Abrams first saw it, a dusty gray-green, though in spring when the rains are ending it is a fine glowing green. Flowering takes place in February and March and at that time many of the specimens, according to the ranchers, appear as golden trees, powdered over with untold numbers of yellow male flowers" (Peattie 1950).
Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.
Lanner (1999) provides illustrations and incidental information.
Sheehey, Alison. 2006. Bodfish Piute Cypress Botanical Area. natureali.org/SQF/cypress.html (accessed 2007.01.01). Includes photos and information on how to access the trees at the site, which adjoins the Piute Cypress Research Natural Area.
Herbarium data for all California species are accessible via the CalFlora Database.
Last Modified 2012-11-23