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Products > Cupressus stephensonii
Cupressus stephensonii - Cuyamaca Cypress

Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Tree
Family: Cupressaceae (incl. Taxodiaceae) (Cypresses)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: NA
Bloomtime: Not Significant
Synonyms: [Hesperocyparis stephensonii, C. arizonica ssp.]
Height: 25-40 feet
Width: 20-30 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Deer Tolerant: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): No Irrigation required
Winter Hardiness: 0-10 F
Cupressus stephensonii (Cuyamaca Cypress) - A large evergreen coniferous naturally spreading tree to 30 to 50 feet tall by only slightly less wide with a central trunk leader having wide with smooth cherry red bark that exfoliates in curly pieces and scale-like silver gray-green leaves. A dioecious species with females producing small brown cones in spring.

Plant in full sun and given occasional to infrequent irrigation. This tree is drought tolerant with a cold hardiness down to at least 10 degrees F.

Cuyamaca Cypress is one of the rarest of named cypresses and was only known to grow naturally in the headwaters of King Creek on the southwest side of Cuyamaca Peak, in San Diego County with only thirty to forty individual older trees remaining after the Cedar Fire that burned 273,246 acres in October and November 2003, giving this plant the IUCN Red List listing as a Critically Endangered species. The epithet honors J. Burt Stephenson, the district ranger at the U.S. Forest Service Descanso Station in Alpine, California, who collected specimens in the 1930 that were distributed to herbariums. One of Stephenson's specimens attracted the attention of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden botanist Carl Brandt Wolf, who collected the type specimen at 4,000 feet along King Creek in the Cuyamaca Mountains and described the species in 1948, naming it for Mr. Stephenson.

Recent genetic research has shown that the Western Hemisphere cypresses are a well-supported clade that are quite separate from the Eastern Hemisphere species. For this reason, a new genus, Hesperocyparis, has been erected for the New World cypresses while the Old World plants will retain the name Cupressus. We are currently leaving this plant as Cupressus until this change becomes widely accepted. 

This information about Cupressus stephensonii displayed is based on research conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens we have visited, as well how the crops have performed in containers in our nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share any cultural information that would aid others in growing it.