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Scientific: Cupressus sempervirens (only cultivated ecotypes with columnar growth habits are used in Phoenix amenity landscapes)
Common: Italian cypress
Family: Cupressaceae
Origin: Mediterranean area into western Asia

Pronounciation: koo-PRES-sus sim-per-VIE-rens

Hardiness zones
4-24 (best in 8-15 and 18-20)
USDA 7-11 (semi arid and arid regions only)

Landscape Use: Strong vertical accent, used to define landscape space, classic cemetary tree, NOT for small landscape plots. Here's an Italian cypress used as a vertical accent next to a temple in Hyderabad, India. In Phoenix (and elsewhere), Italian cypress is sometimes planted as a foundation plant against the sidewall of a single story residential home. The results of this practice many years hence is comical.

Form & Character: Erect and stiff, upright, formal. Some have recognized that this species broadly assumes two growth habits, fastigiate or horizontal, and have assigned subspecific taxonomic ranks on that basis.

Growth Habit: Woody perennial evergreen, most landscape cultivars are upright and narrowly columnar, slowly moderate to eventually towering upwards of 60 to 80 feet in height.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves obtuse, dark green, mostly appressed and scale like; fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers aesthetically insignificant, monoecious; female cones to 1.5 inches across, globose, scaly, woody, maturing in two years.

Seasonal Color: None

Temperature: Tolerant of Phoenix summer heat if irrigated.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant

Watering: In Phoenix, apply supplemental water especially during summer months to maintain health and vigor.

Pruning: Some people will 'flat-top' prune columnar cultivars to head back extended height growth largely as an after effect of poor and improper planting location such as at the corner of a house underneath the eves.

Propagation: Cutting, seed

Disease and Pests: Spider mites during hot dry weather.

Additional comments: Italian cypress is one tough landscape tree that is currently not thought of as being 'in style' in the Phoenix area. It is the classic cemetary tree (aspiring up to heaven), as depicted here in this image showing a large cemetary in Mesa, Arizona.

Italian cypress trees growing 'wild' in their native Mediterranean habitat can have an excurrent, perpendicular branching habit with an open, conical form. In contrast, cultivated varieties are mostly columnar to vertical in form including the cultivars 'Fastigiata', 'Stricta', 'Glauca', 'Indica', and 'Swanes's Golden'. One notable exception, the cultivar 'Hortzontalis' has a form that is broadly spreading culitivar. Here's a plant nursery that specializes in production of Italian cypress clones.

Biomedical factoid: Research studies have shown that in a region of central Italy people suffer from upper- or lower-respiratory-tract disorders or conjunctival disease likely caused by exposure to Italian cypress pollen. However, Italian cypress also is reported to offer many human health benefits due to its phytochemical properties, including antimicrobial and antiviral activity.