A Magnificent Mature Italian Cypress, Cupressus semperviriens

The Italian Cypress at the corner of Almond and Center in Orange, California was planted in the 1890s, making it nearly 120 years old, older than about 99% of  all the buildings in Orange County.  It is 90 feet tall, and may be the largest Italian Cypress in California.

Italian Cypress

Recently I went and had a look at this beautiful old giant.  I saw that it has finally popped the sidewalk a bit, maybe an inch or two, and the concrete curb on the other side of the trunk, away from the sidewalk, is raised up about two inches by the roots.  One small section of the sidewalk has been very recently replaced, but most of the sidewalk and curb look to be at least 50-60 years old, and is most probably older.  Based on this, I would say the root system is pretty well behaved, at least for the first century.

Sidewalk by Cypress

What surprised and amazed me was the shape of the lowest branches, which begin at about eight or ten feet above the ground.  From one  angle, the branches are perhaps  18" wide.  From another angle, they are only about 4" wide!   The shape of the branch is flat and wide, like lumber!  I didn't know they did that. 

Italian Cypress

Italian Cypress

Italian Cypress

Most Italian Cypress I see are used  as tall, narrow hedges:
Cypress as a hedge

While they form a very effective narrow screen, their beauty is utterly lost.  A single magnificent specimen shows their true potential.    Ain't it wonderful? 

Cypress

Update August 2011
I am absolutely sickened to report that this magnificent being has been cut down.  

Photobucket

Damn shame.   


Dirr's Trees and Shrubs for Warm Climates: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

Comments

  1. Thats great to see. I have about 40 of these grown from cuttings. Mostly mow about 800mm high and currently in 10 litre buckets. I will plant them out in our spring (September) I was going to plant them in groups of five or nine somewhat randomly. Your comments make me continue to think that will be the thing to do.

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  2. They will be perfect in small random groups, TFoG. Give them space between each so they can achieve their full potential and thrive for a century or more. How wonderful that will be.

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  3. I parked near Almond and Center last night for the Street Fair and walked over to see this magnificent tree. I thought I must be mistaken as to its location when I couldn't find it. Do you know why they cut it down? https://www.facebook.com/greattrees

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  4. Sorry balmages, I don't. The last time I saw it, it looked very healthy.

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  5. that makes me sick at my stomach. I can see taking down a silver maple or some other trash tree but a 120 year old tree. What's with that?

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  6. stumbled on your site (looking for Moonstone roses) very bummed to read about a tree. But moreso I am stunned people out there didn't protest its removal - what gives??

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  7. Wow, that's sad they cut it down. Without knowing anything I would guess that they were in fear of this canker disease causing root rot, and what it would do if it fell, and just being overly paranoid. Here in San Luis Obispo, the city is going around picking certain mature Monterey Cypress trees and cutting them down. These trees look magnificent, and have trunks bigger than this Italian Cypress, and man it sure is a shame to see them go.

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  8. Sorry to hear that SLO is cutting down beautiful trees. I wonder if it has anything to do with the big Eucalyptus that recently fell in Newport Beach and killed a person. City attorneys everywhere might have shuddered at the thought of lawsuits...and ordered the cutting to begin.

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  9. Lee'bert, Orange is not a hotbed of heritage tree love, I'm afraid. :(

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  10. Sad! It was beautiful and wonderful that you were able to capture its magnificence before it was cut.

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  11. These trees are beautiful when planted in the right place. And that is very rare. People think they make a great hedge. NOT. I moved into a home where there are two HUGE specimens that are lifting the driveway and sidewalk by about 3". I feel so sad to cut something so old and grand down but I very much need to. People need to do some research or ask the right questions at the (real) nursery before selecting plants. Can you tell I work at a nursery?

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    1. Well, I don't know about the nursery, but I can tell you have a lot of common sense and education as well. Right plant in the right place. Right plant in the right place. That cannot be said enough! My neighbors planted some right up next to the house--I did approach them--do you know how wide those get--they will be better not so close--in one ear, out the other. Sometimes people don't know, but sometimes they don't care. They will move and it will be the next owner's problem. Sigh.

      Sad your huge Cypress must go--but even the best plants are bad when badly sited. I hope you take some photos of the beasties before they have to go.

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