Though sometimes known by different names, Italian cypress trees are popular evergreens used for hedges, wind barriers, and screening on your property. Grown in USDA zones 7 to 11, Italian cypress trees, once established, need little additional care and are drought tolerant. Italian cypress trees are fast growing, making them ideal for transforming your ordinary landscaping into a dramatic landscape with these elegant, vertical trees.
Cupressus sempervirens is the biological, or scientific, name for the Italian cypress tree. Cupressus is Latin, though derived from the Greek word kyparissos, and translates to the English word cypress. In Greek mythology, Kyparissos, the Prince of Keos, died from grieving over the death of his pet stag. Apollo loved Kyparissos so much, he transformed Kyparissos into a cypress tree for eternity. Sempervirens is also Latin, and translates into semper ("always") virens ("to be green"). In other words: evergreen.
The Italian cypress is often referred to as the Mediterranean cypress because of its prevalence in Mediterranean landscapes, not because the Italian cypress originated from the Mediterranean region. In fact, the origins of the Italian cypress are Persia or Syria. The travelling Etruscan tribes brought with them this cypress tree because they believed it to hold mystical and supernatural powers. Today, thousands of Italian cypress can be seen growing on the hillsides throughout the Mediterranean region.
The Etruscan tribes would plant the cypress around their burial grounds to ensure their dead had safe passage into the afterlife. It was believed the strong fragrance of the Italian cypress could ward away demons. Italian cypress also played a dominating role in the beliefs about death and the afterlife for the Romans and Egyptians. The trees were often planted surrounding their burial sites and the wood and oils of the Italian cypress tree used in burial ceremonies. Additionally, because of the fragrant oils of the Italian cypress, the wood decomposes extremely slow and made an ideal wood for coffins.
'Glauca' Italian Cypress
The 'Glauca' Italian Cypress tree is similar to the standard Italian cypress but does not grow as tall, only to heights of 25 to 40 feet, and is not as wide, seldom reaching over three feet in width. More of a pencil shape, with tighter branches and foliage, the 'Glauca' Italian cypress tree foliage is a bluish green color, and can be grown in USDA zones 7 to 11.