Monday, February 14, 2011

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Port Orford Cedar

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana: Chamaecyparis from the Greek chamae, "dwarf, low-growing, or growing on the ground" and kyparissos, "cypress," meaning "dwarf or ground cypress;" lawsoniana named after Charles Lawson (1794-1873), since 1821 the head of Peter Lawson and Son Nursery in Edinburgh, Scotland, a nursery founded in 1770 by his father Peter Lawson. The Lawson cypress was first discovered near Port Orford in Oregon and introduced into cultivation in 1854 by collectors working for the Lawson and Son nursery who sent seeds back to Scotland.

Also known as Lawson's Cypress.

Evergreen native to coastal Oregon and the California coastal ranges. Moderate growth rate to 60' in cultivation, 200' in habitat with 30+' spread, developing a dense pyramidal or columnar shape with branching often to the ground.

Lacy, drooping, flat foliage sprays are variable blue-green with minute flattish scalelike leaves, soft to the touch with short blunt points.

Insignificant reddish or brown male flowers appear a swollen bulbs at leaf tips an dshed pollen in spring. Tiny green female flowers form berrylike, reddish brown, 3/8" long, oval cones among the foliage, maturing in fall of the first season, when the 8 wide flat scales open exposing the center portion when ripe.

Bark is thin, brown, becoming gray with age, with irregular shallow seams and flat, shallow ridges , frequent diagonal crossings, peeling in narrow, flat, vertical strips.

Resinous substance in wood is toxic to termites, making this a valuable timber tree. Originally used for uses as diverse as shipbuilding and match sticks, it is now the most valuable wood harvested in western North America, thanks to past overexploitation. Longevity estimated at 200 years in cultivation and up to 600 years in habitat.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cupressus macrocarpa - Monterrey Cypress

Cupressus macrocarpa: Cupressus is the Latin name for the Italian Cypressus tree (Cupressus sempervirens); macrocarpa, referring to the species' large cones.

Evergreen cypress native only to the Monterrey peninsula along the California coast, but extensively naturalized in California and around the globe. Famous for its silhouette and cultivated in coastal areas as a dense, fast-growing windbreak, hedge or park tree. Needs a moist, cool climate. Longevity 100 years in cultivation, up to 200 years in habitat.

Moderate to fast growth to 60' tall x 35' wide, with a dense, pyramidal form in youth, broad at the base with strong horizontal branching angled upward to a pointed crown. Lower branches eventually die back on older trees, giving a wider, flat-topped crown.

Foliage is dark or bright green and scale-like, each scale ~1/16" long, with blunt tips, usually without glands.

Male flowers appear as yellowish buds at the ends of foliage and shed pollen in March.

Greenish females form dark brown to grayish 1" round cones, with 4-6 wide, flat scales with blunt knots maturing in August fo the second year, openaing at seams between scales. Cones remain attached to the tree for several years.

Bark is reddish brown, narrowly seamed with a network of narrow vertical ridges and smaller diagonal ones, often taking a grayish cast as it weathers.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cycas revoluta - Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta: Cycas from Greek 'kukas', erroneous reading of 'koïkas', accusative pl. of 'koïx', a kind of palm tree, perhaps of Egyptian origin; revoluta, meaning rolled back from the margin or apex, revolute.

Evergreen. Native to the West Indies, China, and Japan. Slow growing to 20' tall x 16' wide, forming a short, cylindrical trunk with whorled stumps of removed leaf bases. Develops off-shoots at the base, forming multiple upward-curved trunks with age. Sago palms can live to be over 500 years old. Leaves are 2-3' long dark green glabrous feathery fronds that are rigid and feel like plastic. Bark is scaly, cinnamon-red to dark brown.

Fronds are composed of many stiff, narrow linear-paired pinnae with sharply pointed ends, arising from a short-sheathed stalk. Fronds persist until they are cut off.

Dioecious flowers occur on separate plants, with yellowish conelike males producing pollen...

and larger female rosettes covered wth thick down, maturing into a cylindrical dark cone...

with thick red edible seeds.

Seeds and stem starch have been widely used as a food source; a large plant may yield over 1,000 seeds. The Ryuku Islanders make a form of sake that is poisonous and an occasional batch kills all who partake.

Prefers part shade in hot interior climates, with moderate moisture in fertile, well-drained soil. Due to its tolerance of temperate climates and various forms of horticultural abuse, this is the most common ornamental cycad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Cupressus funebris - Funeral Cypress

Cupressus funebris: Cupressus is the Latin name for the Italian Cypressus tree (Cupressus sempervirens); funebris, Latin meaning 'funereal' -- so named for its pendulous, weeping branch tips.

Also known as Mourning Cypress.

Evergreen. Native to China. Tolerates wet soil, does well around ponds.

30'-60' tall with an equal spread. Heavy, wide-spreading limbs with weeping branch tips.

Foliage is lacy, in flat, drooping sprays of tiny yellow-green scale-like leaves with short, blunt points.

Tiny green female flowers form green, juniper-like cones 3/8" long.

Female cones maturing to brown in the fall of the first season. Male flowers are reddish brown, appearing at leaf tips in spring.

Bark is thin, reddish brown, peeling in thin, hairy strips.