Arizona Cypress (Arizonica)

The Arizona Cypress (Arizonica) is generally described as a perennial tree. This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the summer . The greatest bloom is usually observed in the spring, with fruit and seed production starting in the summer and continuing until fall. Leaves are retained year to year. The Arizona Cypress (Arizonica) has a long life span relative to most other plant species and a moderate growth rate. At maturity, the typical Arizona Cypress (Arizonica) will reach up to 45 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of 25 feet.

The Arizona Cypress (Arizonica) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by bare root, container, seed. It has a moderate ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have low vigor. Note that cold stratification is not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below -13°F. has high tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Livestock: This tree can be harvested, processed, and used for fence posts because it is quite durable when seasoned.

Timber: Arizona cypress has little value when grown for timber but has been used for Christmas trees and for some hobby and craft items.

Erosion control: This tree has been used for windbreaks in desert areas.

General Characteristics

Cupressus arizonica Greene, Arizona cypress, is the only cypress native to the southwest. It is a medium sized tree 50 to 60 feet tall and 15 to 30 inches in diameter. It is evergreen, with a dense, upright, cone-shaped crown and smooth reddish-brown bark that sometimes becomes fibrous with flat ridges. Leaves are scale-like and grayish-green, bluish-green, or silvery, arranged opposite in pairs and tightly clasping the cord-like or four-sided twigs; they emit a fetid odor when crushed. The cones are 3/4 to 1 inch in diameter, somewhat round, dark reddish brown, with 6 to 8 shield-shaped woody scales. The cones mature in autumn of the second season but persist on the tree for many years.

Required Growing Conditions

It is found naturally on dry, sterile, rocky mountain slopes and canyon walls, but does very well when planted on better soils or when irrigated. It requires a minimum of 10 to 12 inches of water annually. It is not recommended for elevations of over 3,000 feet nor is it recommended for soils with a high water table. It requires full sunlight for best development, but is subject to sunscald when grown as an ornamental. Though it grows slowly under natural dry conditions, it is a rapid grower (up to 3 feet per year) on better soils with a good moisture regime.

Arizona cypress is distributed throughout the Southwest.

Cultivation and Care

Arizona cypress is usually available as 1 year old potted stock. It should be planted in areas where there is at least 10 to 12 inches of water available annually either naturally or through irrigation. Early spring is the best time for planting. For windbreaks 6-foot spacing in rows is recommended. Open sunlight is required for best growth.

General Upkeep and Control

Arizona cypress generally requires little maintenance. Deep watering at least every other week is necessary for desert planting during the growing season. Arizona cypress is especially susceptible to fire and needs proper protection.

Pests and Potential Problems Arizona cypress ordinarily has few disease pests, but when grown in areas of high humidity, incidence of disease increases. Principal enemies are mistletoes and rusts. The cypress bark beetle may be troublesome by mining twigs on ornamentals.

Cultivars, Improved, and Selected Materials (and area of origin) No cultivars are known, but Arizona cypress plants are available from most commercial conifer nurseries in the west.

Plant Basics
Growth Rate Moderate
General Type Tree
Growth Period Summer
Growth Duration Perennial
Lifespan Long
Plant Nativity Native to U.S.
Commercial Availability Routinely Available
Physical Characteristics
Bloom Period Spring
Displays Fall Colors Yes
Shape/Growth Form Single Stem
Drought Tolerance High
Shade Tolerance Tolerant
Height When Mature 45
Vegetative Spread None
Flower Color Yellow
Flower Conspicuousness No
Fruit/Seed Abundance High
Fruit/Seed Seasonality Summer Fall
Seed Spread Rate Moderate
Gardening Characteristics
Propagations (Ways to Grow) Bare Root, Container, Seed
Moisture Requirements Low
Cold Stratification Required Yes
Minimum Temperature -13
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Toxic to Nearby Plants No
Toxic to Livestock No
After-Harvest Regrowth Rate None
After-Harvest Resprout Ability No
Responds to Coppicing Yes
Growth Requirements
pH Range 7–8.5 pH
Precipitation Range 10–10 inches/yr
Planting Density 300–1200 indiv./acre
Soil Textures Coarse, Medium
Soil Depth for Roots 12
Minimum Frost-Free Days 150 day(s)
Salinity Tolerance Low
CaCO3 Tolerance High
Sustainability & Use
Leaf Retention Yes
Palatability Low
Fire Resistant No
Causes Livestock Bloating None

Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database,
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA