Cupressus arizonica Greene
The Arizona cypress is a steeple shaped tree ranging from a pale-green to gray-green in color. The leaves are tiny and quite plentiful. They lay close to the branchlet surface in a scale like arrangement and are about 0.1" long.
The bark is thin and delicate and has a reddish brown color. It splits into strips along the length of the tree.
The woody cones are spherical in shape and mature in two years. The Arizone Cypress has smal yellow flowers that are visible in the fall. The Arizona cypress has a pleasing aroma and recorded heights of 80' and trunk diameters up to 3'.
There are about 30 cultivars of Arizona cypress. These cultivars are grouped under the names Cupressus arizonica var. glabra and Cupressus glabra alternatively. Although most of these cultivars have came from Australia and New Zealand, the most commercially significant one is 'Carolina Sapphire'. The unique characteristics of these plants qualified them for registration by the Royal Horticultural Society (the international authority for the registration of conifer names) in 1987. Other cultivars used as Christmas trees include Cupressus arizonica var. glabra 'Clemson Greenspire', ...'Blue Pyramid' (aka 'Blue Ice'), and ...'Silver Smoke'. The latter two are New Zealand selections.
The Arizona cypress covers the largest natural range of North American cypresses. It is found in west Texas, northwest Mexico, southwest New Mexico, southern California, and southern Arizona. It has been successfully grown in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, the Florida panhandle, Tennessee, and in the Carolinas. It demonstrated substantial cold hardiness in the mountains of North Carolina.
Arizona cypress is most commonly propagated by seed germination and by rooted cutting. This technique guarantees progeny with genetic characteristics identical to the parent plant, an important consideration to Christmas tree growers.
The wood of the Arizona cypress is hard, heavy and durable. It has been used as fence posts and as mine shaft timbers. Today it has become a valued Christmas tree. It is primarily available at cut-yourself Christmas tree farms in the south, southwest and along the east coast of America. It is also used as a landscape plant in those same areas.