Cupressus sempervirens

Cupressus sempervirens “Stricta”.

The Cypress pencil pine is in Division Pinophyta > Order Pinales > Family Cupressaceae.

A conical shaped, evergreen tree to 18 m high.
Only the base of the trunk is visible with its grey-brown, vertically furrowed bark.

The dark green foliage is in dense, three dimensional sprays.
Small scale-like leaves up to 5 mm long with rounded tips are in opposite, decussate pairs.
Leaves have a waxy coating and a gland on their outer surface in the form of a furrow.

Male cones are up to 5 cm long.

Solitary or grouped ovoid female cones, up to 3 cm long, are on short stalks.
They have 10 to 14 scales in opposite pairs which take up to 2 years to mature.
Each scale has a central umbo (hump or spine from the bract scale).
Scales holds 8 to 20 ovules that mature into small, flat brown seeds with narrow wings.

There are many cultivars with variations in height, form and colour.
Variegated ones with yellow shoots include “Swane’s Golden”, “Aurea” and “Gold Rocket”.
C. sempervirens “Variegata” has white and pale yellow among the green.

(The pencil pine, Athrotaxis cupressoides, native to Tasmania, has leaves arranged in spirals.)