T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network


Cupressus sempervirens (Italian Cypress)

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Cupressus
Species: C. sempervirens
Binomial name: Cupressus sempervirens
Common names: Mediterranean Cypress, Italian Cypress, Tuscan cypress, Graveyard Cypress, Pencil Pine.

Cupressus sempervirens is a species of cypress native to the eastern Mediterranean region, in northeast Libya, southern Albania, southeast Greece (Crete, Rhodes), southern Turkey, Cyprus, Northern Egypt, western Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Malta, Italy, western Jordan, and also a disjunct population in Iran. 
It is a medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree to 35 m tall, with a conic crown with level branches and variably loosely hanging branchlets. It is very long-lived, with some trees reported to be over 1,000 years old. There is one in Abarqu, Iran reported to be 4000 years old. 
The foliage grows in dense sprays, dark green in colour. The leaves are scale-like, 2–5 mm long, and produced on rounded (not flattened) shoots. 
The seed cones are ovoid or oblong, 25–40 mm long, with 10-14 scales, green at first, maturing brown about 20–24 months after pollination.
The male cones are 3–5 mm long, and release pollen in late winter.
Cupressus sempervirens has been widely cultivated as an ornamental tree for millennia away from its native range, mainly throughout the central and western Mediterranean region, and in other areas with similar hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. It can also be grown successfully in areas with cooler, moister summers such as New Zealand.

The vast majority of the trees in cultivation are selected cultivars with a fastigiated crown, with erect branches forming a narrow to very narrow crown often less than a tenth as wide as the tree is tall. 

It is also known for its very durable, scented wood, used most famously for the doors of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome. Cypress used to be used in distilleries as staves to hold mash ferments to make alcohol before the invention of stainless steel. In cosmetics it is used as astringent, firming, antiseborrheic, antidandruff, ant aging and as fragrance.

There are two large trees at “Ratanui” on Carrington road that were planted by John Nairn in the mid 1800. He also planted two trees that are still growing at St Mary’s Church over the grave of the Reverend Bollard (This is the first documented planting of exotic trees in Taranaki). There are also several large specimens growing in Pukekura Park.

Cupressus sempervirens planted around 1873 at the Anglican church of St.Michael's at Waimea West. 


Photographed at Pukekura park, New Plymouth
 

Twigs covered with small scale-like leaves, with brownish male cones at their tips; pollen has not yet been
 

The trunk.