What is Cupressus?

Vasanth S.

Cupressus is a plant genus that is part of the Cupressaceae family. It contains about 26 species of evergreen trees commonly known as cypress that are native to North America and Asia. The trees are either narrow and tall or pyramid-shaped. They are excellent specimens for various landscaping applications. Most species within the Cupressus genus are susceptible to canker formation and insect damage.

In the U.S., cypress trees range from Delaware, both south and west, to Texas, and along the banks of the Mississippi River Valley.
In the U.S., cypress trees range from Delaware, both south and west, to Texas, and along the banks of the Mississippi River Valley.

The genus name is derived from the Greek word kuparissos. Several of the species in the Cupressus genus have variations of the common name cypress. For example, Cupressus sempervirens is called Italian cypress, while Cupressus macrocarpa is called Monterey cypress. A variety of C. macrocarpa is called golden cone, and a variety of C. sempervirens is called green pencil.

Most cypress trees grow in the western part of the United States and in eastern Asia. C. arizonica is located from west Texas to southern Nevada and down to northern Mexico. The nootka cypress, also known as the nootka cedar, C. nootkatensis, is distributed from California to Washington State and northward into Canada and Alaska. C. chengiana is grown in China.

Depending on the species, cypress trees can grow in a variety of shapes. The Monterey cypress reaches a height of 100 feet (30 m) and spreads 40 feet (12 m). It is narrow at the bottom and becomes broad at the top. The foliage is dark green, and the fruits are initially green but turn brown.

The Monterey cypress grows well in fertile, well-draining soil. It is a versatile tree which can thrive in loamy, sandy, or clay soil. This cypress can also tolerate both alkaline and acidic soil. The area in which the Monterey cypress is planted should be exposed to direct sunlight, and the area should be somewhat protected from direct winds.

A common problem that develops on the Monterey cypress is coryneum cankers. This is a fungus that attacks the bark of the tree. The symptoms include tiny growths on the bark filled with resin, and the presence of fruiting bodies, which are mushroom shaped fungal growths. The leaves on the affected branch become yellow and drop. Eventually, the branch will decay and die back.

Aphids are another problem that affects the Monterey cypress. These tiny, round insects feed on the leaves. Usually, aphids leave behind a residue that attracts fungal spores. The infestation is usually treated with an insecticidal soap spray.

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