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Conservation status

Cupressus benthamii

Endlicher 1847

Common names

Mexican cypress, cedar of Goa, cedro blanco, cedro blanco del desierto, cedro, ciprés (Farjon 2005).

Taxonomic notes

Synonymy:

See the "Taxonomic notes" section of Cupressus for a discussion of the relationship between this and other, closely related Cupressus taxa in northwest Mexico and the adjacent Southwest U.S. Briefly, there is considerable doubt whether the populations of Cupressus scattered from Sonora to Chiapas have been studied well enough to conclude that all can be assigned to the existing described species. Farjon (1993) analysed the problem and concluded that all specimens from south of about 22° latitude can be assigned to one of two taxa, which he called C. lusitanica var. lusitanica and C. lusitanica var. benthamii, and which I here treat as C. lusitanica and C. benthamii. An analysis by Little (2006) also found differences between the two taxa on the basis of several different molecular genetic lines of evidence; however, the differences were very small.

Description

A tree attaining 25-30 m in height. Crown pyramidal. Bark thick, reddish-brown, with longitudinal fissures. Shoots quadrangular, pendulous, not in a single plane. Foliage blue-green, four-ranked, ovate, closely pressed, usually with long, pointed apex. Cones globose, ca. 12 mm across, blue-green in the juvenile stage, turning dark brown when they ripen, they open and later fall, composed of 6-8 scales with a central strong, reflexed umbo, erect on the upper scales. Seeds about 75 to a cone, brown, with resin glands, about 4 mm long together with a narrow wing (Vidakovic 1991).

The easiest way to distinguish this species from Cupressus lusitanica is that the latter species has flattened sprays of foliage, and the crown is broad rather than pyramidal (Farjon 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

Mexico: Chiapas, Durango, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Jalisco, México, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Tamaulipas, Tlaxcala?, Veracruz, Yucatan? Occurs at elevations of 1500-3990 m. Its distribution is really not well known; it appears to be generally sympatric with Cupressus lusitanica, but to have a more restricted distribution (Farjon 2005).

Big tree

Oldest

Dendrochronology

Ethnobotany

Observations

Remarks

Citations

Endlicher. 1847. Synopsis Coniferarum, p. 59 (as Cupressus benthami).

Farjon, Aljos. 1993. Nomenclature of the Mexican cypress or "cedar of Goa", Cupressus lusitanica Mill. (Cupressaceae). Taxon 42: 81-84.

See also

Bisbee, Jeff. 2006. Photos at the Cupressus Conservation Project website.

Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Martínez, M. 1947. Los Cupressos de Mexico. Anal. Inst. Biol. Mexico 18: 71-149.

Last Modified 2012-11-30