Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana
Santa Cruz cypress.
Although collected as early as 1881, specimens were described as C. sargentii or C. goveniana until Wolf described the new taxon. He regarded the taxon as intermediate between the coastal C. goveniana and the widespread, interior species, C. sargentii (Griffin and Critchfield 1972). McMillan (1951) proposed a hybrid origin from these two species, but the idea has not been widely credited. Molecular analysis of several types of genetic material has confirmed a close relationship between the varieties of C. goveniana (Little 2006).
USA: California, Santa Cruz Mountains, at 490-760 m (Peattie 1950). Found at 2 locales in Santa Cruz County and one in adjacent San Mateo County (Little 1970). Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
Griffin and Critchfield (1972) provide the following detail on this species' native occurrence: "This cypress is confined to four populations in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Wolf (1948) discussed the Bonny Doon and Eagle Rock groves. The Butano Ridge stand, which Wolf looked for but could not find, was relocated in 1949 (McMillan 1952). .. [A] fourth stand [was found] near Boulder Creek which Thomas (1961) called the Brackenbrae grove. These cypress populations all grow in sterile, sandy, chaparral habitats within a Redwood-Mixed Evergreen Forest mosaic. The southernmost grove, along Martin Road near Bonny Doon, is probably the best known stand. These cypresses, at [490 m] elevation, associate with knobcone pine [Pinus attenuata] on sandstone outcrops and with ponderosa pine [Pinus ponderosa] on deeper soils. [Eleven km] north, near Eagle Rock lookout, is the smallest grove. This stand numbers less than a hundred trees. At [762 m], it is the highest-elevation grove. The larger Brackenbrae population is [4.8 km] east of Eagle Rock. It lies on the east side of Boulder Creek canyon around the [328-meter] level. The cypress trees are scattered within knobcone pine thickets. The northernmost stand is [11.25 km] northwest of Eagle Rock on the south side of Butano Ridge."
See Observations, below.
Vladimir Dinets (e-mail 2003.03.01) reports that it can be seen at the Bonnie Doon Ecological Preserve. "The reserve protects an unusual area of sandstone outcrops, surrounded by sandy flats with tall forest of ponderosa pine (the best one anywhere on Calif. coast). It has two endemic plant species. Overall, the place looks like a piece of Eastern Sierra transported to the coast. The largest cypress trees are more than 25 m tall, and (not the same specimens) approach 50 cm in diameter. There are also some dwarf trees, one had a cone but was only 15 cm tall."
Listed in 1987 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the endangered species C. abramsiana. A recovery plan (USFWS 1998) has been published and can be downloaded at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
McMillan, Calvin. 1952. The third locality for Cupressus Abramsiana Wolf. Madroño 11: 189-194.
Thomas, J.H. 1961. Flora of the Santa Cruz Mountains of California. 434 p., illus. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press.
[USFWS] U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1998. Recovery Plan for the Santa Cruz Cyprus (Cupressus abramsiana). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 51pp. + appendices.
Adams, R.P. and J.A. Bartel. 2009. Geographic variation in the leaf essential oils of Hesperocyparis (Cupressus) abramsiana, H. goveniana and H. macrocarpa: Systematic implications. Phytologia 91(1):226-243.
Adams, R.P. and J.A. Bartel. Infraspecific variation in Hesperocyparis abramsiana: ISSRs and terpenoid data. Phytologia 91(2);287-299.
Herbarium data for all California species are accessible via the CalFlora Database.
Last Modified 2012-11-23