Monterey cypress (Eng); ciprés de Monterrey, ciprés, ciprés de California (Spa); xiprer de Lambert (Cat); Monterey-ko nekosta (Baq); cipreste-da-califórnia (Por).
DID YOU KNOW...? In its natural state, this cypress is only found along a narrow coastal strip in Monterey Bay, in the state of California (USA).
The Monterey cypress is an evergreen, more or less pyramidal in form when young, and broadly domed when mature. It can be up to 25 m tall. It has a thick trunk, broader at the base, with a reddish brown, deeply cracked bark that detaches in strips. The leaves are 1-2 mm long, green to yellowish scales with obtuse apexes. They are tightly adhered around the terminal twigs and overlap like the scales on a fish. The male and female cones tend to be separated on the same plant. The male cones are very small (3-5 mm) and yellow in colour. Once fertilised, the female cones give rise to woody fruits, known as strobilus, similar to pine cones, which are globose and reddish brown when ripe. The fruit and the intense aroma of lemon or mandarins that the leaves and twigs give off when rubbed, differentiates this species from the Mediterranean cypress (Cupressus sempervirens). The cones can remain closed on the tree for several years but, when completely developed, their scales separate and release numerous winged seeds that have tiny resin blisters on the surface.
This is an undemanding tree when it comes to soil. It can withstand frost and a certain level of drought, as well as tolerating proximity to the sea. In the Canary Islands, it is mainly found in the extensive, disturbed terrain near urban and rural zones and along roads. It also grows in the monteverde forest zone, particularly in the Morella-Erica heathland, and in the humid pine forest. Sometimes, solitary specimens can be found along the coastal strip, which have probably come from private gardens.
This tree, originally from southern California, is cultivated around the world in mild climates. In the Canary Islands it has been deliberately introduced as an ornamental, as well as for silvicultural purposes as it has excellent quality wood. This tree has escaped from cultivation and become established in the wild on the islands La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.