Cupressus goveniana Gord.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees by John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton

Recommended citation
'Cupressus goveniana' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-07-20.


Bearing glands.
(var.) Taxonomic rank (varietas) grouping variants of a species with relatively minor differentiation in a few characters but occurring as recognisable populations. Often loosely used for rare minor variants more usefully ranked as forms.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Article from New Trees by John Grimshaw & Ross Bayton

Recommended citation
'Cupressus goveniana' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2024-07-20.

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 25 to 35 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.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 85 × 934 ft at 1 ft (1984) and 60 × 1012 ft at 6 in. (1974); Borde Hill, Sussex, Stonepit Wood, 65 × 234 ft (1981); Bicton, Devon, 72 × 612 ft (1979); Werrington Park, Cornwall, 56 × 534 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).

From New Trees

Cupressus goveniana Gordon

Gowen Cypress, Mendocino Cypress

Synonyms: C. goveniana var. pigmaea Lemmon

This species was described by Bean (B802, S201) and Krüssmann (K106).

C abramsiana C.B. Wolf

A small bushy tree of conical habit found in a few localities in the Santa Cruz Mountains, California. It is intermediate between C. sargentii and C. goveniana in its botanical characters, but nearer to the latter, which it resembles in its bright, rich green foliage. The cones, however, are larger than in that species (over {3/5} in. long) and the seeds dull brown and glaucous.

C sargentii Jeps

This species is closely related to C. goveniana. It may be distinguished by its dull grey-green leaves, stouter branchlets and somewhat larger cones ({3/4} to 1 in. long). The seeds are lustrous brown, sometimes glaucous. It is a species of much wider range than C. goveniana, occurring here and there in the Coastal Range of California.

var. abramsiana (C.B. Wolf) Little

Common Names
Santa Cruz Cypress

Var. abramsiana has larger seed cones than the type variety (2–3 cm diameter, vs. 1.2–1.8 cm), and the seeds are slightly glaucous (vs. dark brown or black). Watson & Eckenwalder 1993, Farjon 2005c. Distribution USA: California (Santa Cruz Mts.). Habitat Mixed pine-oak forest on white sands at about 530 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Endangered. Illustration NT298. Cross-references B803, S201, K103.

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’.

var. pygmaea Lemm.

C. pygmaea (Lemm.) Sarg

This variety is misleadingly named, being dwarf only on sterile soils; in favoured situations it develops a leading shoot and may attain a height of over 100 ft. The foliage is dull, dark green. Seeds lustrous black to dull brown.C. goveniana is a very local species in the wild, found in the same part of Monterey Co. as the more famous C. macrocarpa, but farther inland. It was introduced from this locality by Hartweg in 1846. Var. pygmaea occurs much farther to the north, in Mendocino Co.H. J. Elwes remarked (The Trees of Great Britain and Ireland) that C. goveniana appeared to be a short-lived tree; at that time (1910) it was represented in cultivation by specimens 40–50 ft high, some of them already going back; whether any of these remain today is doubtful – the researches of A. F. Mitchell have so far revealed none in Britain. At the present time all of the finest specimens of C. goveniana in this country are to be found at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, where there are altogether some twenty-five specimens, sixteen of which are over 50 ft high. The tallest is a narrowly columnar tree of 72 × 5{1/4} ft and there is one of similar habit almost as tall; another with a broad bushy crown is 63 × 7{1/2} ft (1964). Other tall specimens grow at Bagshot Park, Surrey, and Woburn Abbey, Beds. There is a fine specimen in the R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, about 40 ft high.