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Cupressus arizonica (Arizona Cypress)

Arizona Cypress, Hesperocyparis arizonica

Arizona Cypress, Cupressus arizonica, Hesperocyparis arizonica, Evergreen conifer

The Arizona Cypress stands out for its resilience, unique appearance, and adaptability to challenging environments. Its ability to thrive in arid conditions and its aesthetic and practical uses make it a valuable species for both natural and urban landscapes.

Arizona Cypress: An In-depth Look

Cupressus arizonica, commonly known as the Arizona Cypress, is a coniferous tree notable for its striking blue-green foliage and conical shape. It is a resilient species in the cypress family Cupressaceae that has gained popularity in landscaping.

Native: This species is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, predominantly found in Arizona, hence its name. It grows naturally in rocky, mountainous areas.

Plant Type and Habit: Arizona Cypress is a coniferous evergreen tree with a pyramidal to columnar growth habit, making it distinct in landscapes. Generally, the lifespan of the Arizona Cypress ranges from 30 to 50 years, influenced by its growing conditions.

Size: The tree can grow 40-60 feet tall (12-18 meters) with a spread of 15-20 feet (4.5 to 6 meters), depending on environmental conditions. Arizona Cypress is a moderately fast-growing tree. While naturally growing slowly in dry conditions, the Arizona Cypress can grow up to 3 feet (90 cm) per year in richer soils with adequate moisture.

Fruits: The tree produces small, dark red-brown male and female cones, about 1 inch in diameter (2.5 cm), on the same tree, with the male cones being more prominent.

Foliage: The foliage consists of scale-like leaves that form dense sprays, creating a blue-green to silvery appearance.

Bark: The bark is smooth and gray on young trees, becoming more furrowed and reddish-brown with age.

Hardiness: The Arizona Cypress is hardy in USDA zones 7-11, tolerating a range of temperatures and harsh conditions.

Uses: The Arizona Cypress is popular as an ornamental tree, ideal for creating windbreaks and privacy screens. It’s often utilized in reforestation efforts in arid areas and is excellent for xeriscaping. Additionally, it is sometimes used as a Christmas tree. Its durable wood is commonly used in fence posts and for various small woodworking projects.

Wildlife: The tree provides habitat for birds and small mammals. Its cones are food sources for some wildlife species.

Deer and Rabbits: The Arizona Cypress is relatively resistant to damage from deer.

Drought / Salt Tolerance: It exhibits excellent drought tolerance once established and can tolerate some salt spray, making it suitable for coastal areas.

Toxicity: There are no significant toxicity concerns for humans or animals from this tree.

Invasiveness: The Arizona Cypress is not known to be invasive.

Benefits: Offers visual interest in landscapes with its unique foliage color. Contributes to carbon sequestration and air purification. Its root system helps stabilize soil, especially in arid regions.

Arizona Cypress, Cupressus arizonica, Hesperocyparis arizonica, Evergreen conifer

How to Grow and Care for the Arizona Cypress

Choosing the Right Location

  • Sunlight: Arizona Cypress thrives in full sun. Choose a location that receives ample daily sunlight.
  • Soil: It prefers well-drained soils. While adaptable, the tree does best in rocky or sandy soils.

Planting

  • Best Time: Plant in early spring or fall.
  • Spacing: Ensure enough space for the tree to grow, considering its potential height and spread. For windbreak plantings, use 8 to 16 foot within-row spacing.
  • Planting Process: Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the tree in the hole, fill it with soil, and water thoroughly.

Watering

  • Young Trees: Water newly planted trees regularly to establish roots. The soil should be moist but not waterlogged.
  • Mature Trees: Once established, Arizona Cypress is drought-tolerant. Water during prolonged dry spells.

Fertilization

  • Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring to encourage healthy growth.

Pruning

  • Purpose: Pruning is not usually necessary but can be done to shape the tree or remove dead branches.
  • Timing: Best pruned in late winter or early spring.

General Maintenance

  • Mulching: Apply mulch around the base to conserve moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Monitoring: Regularly inspect for signs of stress or disease.

Propagation

  • Propagate by seed or treated cuttings taken in late fall. Seeds require cold-moist stratification for one month.

Arizona Cypress – Pests, Diseases, and Common Problems

The Arizona Cypress (Cupressus arizonica) is generally a hardy tree but can face certain pests, diseases, and common problems.

Pests

Bagworms: Caterpillars that create bag-like shelters on branches, feeding on the needles.

Spider mites: These tiny pests can cause foliage to turn yellow and drop prematurely.

Scale insects: They suck sap from the tree, weakening it and causing sticky honeydew and sooty mold.

Cypress Bark Beetle: These beetles bore into the bark, which can weaken and eventually kill the tree.

Diseases

Cankers: Cypress canker is one of the most serious threats to Arizona Cypress. This fungal disease causes lesions on branches, leading to dieback. Seiridium canker causes cankers on stems and branches, leading to branch dieback.

Root rot: Overwatering or poor drainage can lead to root rot, indicated by yellowing needles and a decline in tree health.

Common Problems

Drought Stress: While drought-tolerant, young trees or those in extremely dry conditions can suffer from drought stress.

Overwatering: Too much water, especially in poorly draining soils, can lead to root rot.

Wind Damage: Young trees might be susceptible to damage in high winds due to their tall, narrow growth habit.

Requirements

Hardiness 7 - 11
Climate Zones 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Cupressaceae
Genus Cupressus
Common names Arizona Cypress
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Spread 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Fruit & Berries, Evergreen
Native Plants California, United States, Southwest, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Rocky Mountains
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Cupressus cashmeriana (Kashmir Cypress)
Cupressus x leylandii (Leyland Cypress)
Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic White Cedar)
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’ (Nootka Cypress)
Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress)
Cupressus macrocarpa (Monterey Cypress)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Roots of Life: Exploring the Diverse World of Trees
37 Best Evergreen Trees for Privacy and Year-Round Interest
Cypress Tree: Popular Varieties and Growing Guide
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 7 - 11
Climate Zones 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Plant Type Conifers, Trees
Plant Family Cupressaceae
Genus Cupressus
Common names Arizona Cypress
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early, Mid, Late)
Summer (Early, Mid, Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 40' - 60'
(12.2m - 18.3m)
Spread 15' - 20'
(4.6m - 6.1m)
Maintenance Low
Water Needs Low
Soil Type Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Neutral, Alkaline
Soil Drainage Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy, Fruit & Berries, Evergreen
Native Plants California, United States, Southwest, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Rocky Mountains
Tolerance Deer, Drought, Salt
Attracts Birds
Garden Uses Banks And Slopes, Hedges And Screens
Garden Styles Coastal Garden
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
Explore Great Plant Combination Ideas
Cupressus (Cypress)
Guides with
Cupressus (Cypress)
Not sure which Cupressus (Cypress) to pick?
Compare Now

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