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In the wild a small tree or large shrub, never more than about 25 ft high in its typical state, but taller in cultivation. The branchlets are more slender than in C. macrocarpa, clad with rich green foliage; as in that species they are arranged in four ranks, scale-like and flattened to the branch, but are somewhat smaller. The two species also resemble each other in having non-glandular leaves (cf. C. macnabiana, in which the leaves are pitted with sunken, resin-exuding glands). The cones are smaller than in C. macrocarpa, being 2⁄5 to 3⁄5 in. long, with six to ten scales and more or less globular in shape. Seed ripe in the second year, dark brown to almost black.
specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 85 × 93⁄4 ft at 1 ft (1984) and 60 × 101⁄2 ft at 6 in. (1974); Borde Hill, Sussex, Stonepit Wood, 65 × 23⁄4 ft (1981); Bicton, Devon, 72 × 61⁄2 ft (1979); Werrington Park, Cornwall, 56 × 53⁄4 ft (1977).
var. pygmaea – Lemmon actually adopted the spelling pigmaea and this has to be accepted. Sargent altered it to the more correct pygmaea when raising the variety to species rank.
C. abramsiana – The example in the Hillier Arboretum, Ampfield, Hants, not mentioned in the original printing, is growing fast. Raised from seeds received in 1950, it measures 70 × 9 ft at 3 ft (1986, meas. by P. H. Gardner).
Synonyms: C. goveniana var. pigmaea Lemmon
This species was described by Bean (B802, S201) and Krüssmann (K106).
Santa Cruz Cypress
This taxon is reduced to some 5200 trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains, where although the direct threat posed by housing development is staved off somewhat by protection for the trees, a more insidious threat to regeneration is caused by the alteration to fire regimes imposed by building. Without fires to open the cones, and freshly exposed soil in which seeds can germinate, regeneration will be minimal (Center for Plant Conservation 2007–2008).
The Santa Cruz Cypress is scarce in cultivation but there are some notable specimens. The UK champion (25.8 m in 2000) is at the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens, grown from seed received in 1950 (Bean 1976a, Clarke 1988), and there is a magnificent individual of 20 m or more in the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, with widely spreading limbs, from a 1975 collection. Even in less balmy climates it is fast-growing: at Howick, specimens from W&H 362 and W&H 364, collected in 1986, are up to 12 m tall and are at risk of blowing over, having grown too well (C. Howick, pers. comm. 2005). These are densely columnar specimens, but vary slightly in their ‘tidiness’.
C. pygmaea (Lemm.) Sarg