Italian Cypress Varieties

An essental plant for any classical, Mediterranean-themed landscape, the Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) bears small rounded cones that are aromatic when crushed. It grows best in hot summer climates with cool, moist winters, and will be rather short-lived or look poor in areas of high humidity. Grow this 40- to 60-foot tall tree in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7 through 9, 10 in dry-summer locations.


Also called the blue Italian cypress, 'Glauca' develops a column-like shape maturing to 50 to 60 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. Its short, wispy foliage is blue-green .


Sometimes labeled as 'Fastigiata' and commonly called the columnar Italian cypress, 'Stricta' bears deeper olive-green foliage on fused and flattened branches. It matures to 60 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide.

Swain's Gold

'Swain's Gold' is slower growing than other varieties, but sets itself apart ornamentally with its gold-tipped yellow-green foliage. This tree has a narrowly pointed shape and growing tip, reaching a maximum height of 20 to 30 feet with a base width of 3 to 4 feet.

Tiny Tower

If you are short on vertical or horizontal space, consider the densely growing selection 'Tiny Tower.' Even slower growing than 'Swain's Gold,' it reaches a height of 10 to 12 feet after 20 years of age, with a spread of 3 feet. Its needles display a deep bluish-green hue.


Perhaps not a legitimate variety name, 'Horizontalis' is loosely assigned to more broadly-branching wild forms of the species, or seed-grown trees that came from narrow-shaped parents trees like 'Stricta' or 'Glauca.' The name "horizontalis" may be a remnant name once assigned to some Italian cypresses that taxonomists once believed to be a natural form variant.

Keywords: common cypress varieties, Mediterranean cypress varieties, Cupressus sempervirens, Italian cypress

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for "The Public Garden," "Docent Educator," nonprofit newsletters and for horticultural databases, becoming a full-time writer in 2008. He's gardened and worked professionally at public and private gardens in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. He has written articles for eHow and GardenGuides.