Syn: Cupressus whitleyana Carr. 1855; Cupressus sempervirens L. var. indica Royle ex Parl. in Candolle 1868; Cupressus doniana hort. ex Hook. 1888; Cupressus karnaliensis Silba 1994; Cupressus tongmaiensis Silba 1994; Cupressus tongmaiensis var. ludlowii Silba 1994; Cupressus tongmaiensis var. mustangensis Silba 1994; Cupressus tonkinensis Silba 1994 (Farjon 1998); Cupressus flagelliformis Knight.; Cupressus nepalensis Loud.; Cupressus tournefortii Ten. (Vidakovic 1991).
A evergreen tree 15-25(45) m tall, with a dbh of 40-60(90) cm. Crown large oval to broadly conical. Bark thick, grey brown or brown, peeling off in longitudinal strips. Branches slender, drooping, with thin, whip-like tips. Branchlets cylindrical, nearly quadrangular, branching in whorls. Shoots in a single plane. Leaves scale-like, closely appressed, obtuse, dark green, often with a small dorsal furrow. Male cone subglobular, 5-6mm long. Female cones globose or elliptic, grouped on very short stalks, 10-20 mm across, green or purple when young, later turning dark brown, composed of 6-8(10) scales, with a small central depression and a small, triangular, reflexed mucro. Seeds 6-8 to each scale, red-brown. Cones appear in February-March, seed matures in May-June. Wood is pale yellow with pale brown heartwood, hard and durable (Vidakovic 1991, FIPI 1996).
W. Himalaya at 1800-300 m on limestone substrates; China: W Sichuan, in arid areas at 1500-2500 m (Vidakovic 1991); and Vietnam, where restricted to a narrow area of the Central Region and the North at elevations of 800-1200 m in Lang Son and Tuyen Quang. Also planted in Kon Tum and Lam Dong. It is a shade intolerant species, thriving in tropical and subtropical rainforests, where it prefers calcareous substrates. It occurs naturally as a dominant in mixed stands with Markhamia stipulata and Burretiodendron hsienmu, sometimes forming pure stands on mountain slopes and summits. It is rather slow-growing, and natural regeneration is very limited.
Hardy to Zone 8 (cold hardiness limit between -12.1°C and -6.7°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
Listed as threatened/endangered in Vietnam by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. As an endangered species; it needs protection in its remaining natural distribution area in Lang Son and Tuyen Quang provinces, and plantations should be established to preserve the gene resource for further development of this species (FIPI 1996).
One in Yatton Park, Tauranga, New Zealand was measured in 2002 at 154 cm dbh and 36.9 m tall (Robert Van Pelt e-mail, 2003.01.27). I have not seen any data for specimens in their native range.
It is a prime timber with straight grain and fine texture, resistant to termites and insects. Used for cabinetwork, office furniture, fine art articles. Also used in construction and railway carriage-making. The wood is aromatic, especially the root-wood, and an essential oil extracted from these parts is used in medicine to cure inflammatory wounds, or as an antiseptic, and is also used for cosmetics (FIPI 1996). It serves as an ornamental in Yugoslavia (Vidakovic 1991), and presumably elsewhere in the West.
Vladimir Dinets (E-mail, 2004.11.14) found it growing along the trail to Nanga Parbat Base Camp. "The trailhead is accessible from Gilgit by a hired jeep, or from Raikot Bridge on the Karakoram Highway by hitchhiking (early morning only). Near the trailhead are some Pinus gerardiana, Juniperus semiglobosa and Cupressus torulosa." See Dinets (2004) for further detail.
Dinets, Vladimir. 2004. Ramadan in Pakistan. http://dinets.travel.ru/eibex.htm, accessed 2004.11.28.
D. Don in Lambert. 1824. Descr. Pinus 2:18.
Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.
Last Modified 2017-12-29