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Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana

Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana - Cupressus abramsiana - Santa Cruz cypress
  • Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana - Cupressus abramsiana - Santa Cruz cypress - Click to enlarge
  • Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana cones - Click to enlarge
  • Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana trunk - Click to enlarge


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Product Information


Scientific name: Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana  (C.B.Wolf) Little  1970

Synonyms: Callitropsis abramsiana (C.B.Wolf) D.P.Little, Cupressus abramsiana C.B.Wolf, Hesperocyparis abramsiana (C.B.Wolf) Bartel, Neocupressus goveniana var. abramsiana (C.B.Wolf) de Laub.

Common names: Santa Cruz cypress



Shrubby tree to 10 m tall, or rarely a large tree to 50 m, with trunk to 2 m in diameter, or with several small trunks from the base, or even just 1-2 cm in diameter when growing on hardpan soils. Foliage bright green, bark reddish to grayish brown, thin, smooth to furrowed, fibrous. Crown sparse to dense, narrow to broad, with horizontal or upright branches. Branchlets cylindrical to slightly four-angled, 1-1.5 mm in diameter, branching from all four rows of leaves. Scale leaves of branchlets 1-2 mm long, bright or dark green to yellow-green, not conspicuously waxy, without a gland on the back, or with an inconspicuous, inactive one. Pollen cones 3-4 mm long, 1.5-2 mm wide, with (five or) six or seven (or eight) pairs of pollen scales, each with (three to) five or six pollen sacs. Seed cones often slightly oblong, 1.5-3 cm long, grayish brown at maturity, not waxy, with (three or) four or five pairs of seed scales, each usually fairly flat on the face, without prominent warts or wrinkles. Seeds 3-5 mm long, brown, sometimes waxy, the attachment scar usually prominent. Cotyledons three or four (or five).

This species is found in California (USA): Santa-Cruz Mountains, three localities in Santa Cruz County, with stands near Bonny Doon, and small stands at Eagle Rock and Boulder Creek (“Brackenbrae”); also one locality in San Mateo County on the south side of Butano Ridge; 490-760 m.


Conservation Status

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered

Both the estimated number of mature trees in the global population (<300) and the area of occupancy (16 km²) take this variety close to Endangered, or within this category based on continuous decline. However, the extent of occurrence (72 km²) and the continuous decline inferred from the threats affecting a highly fragmented population place it as Critically Endangered under the B criterion.

The largest subpopulation is partly within the protection of the Bonny Doon National Reserve. Other stands near Bonny Doon are found within private real estate, in both these stands and the part of the subpopulation within the national reserve there is protection from fires, which allows pine species (Pinus spp.) to outcompete Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana. The very small stand at Eagle Rock only has a few individuals surrounded by chaparral so it is a high-risk stand. This is a rare variety with each of the four subpopulations thought to have fewer than 100 mature individuals.

The Boulder Creek subpopulation grows in sterile, sandy, chaparral habitat within a Redwood-Mixed Evergreen Forest mosaic. The Bonny Doon subpopulation grows amongst Knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata) on sandstone outcrops and with Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) on deeper soils.

Fire is a threat to this species: subpopulations are all found in dry forest ecosystems associated with high fire risk chaparral habitats. Increased human pressures through development has direct impact through forest clearance, and indirect impacts through fire management (prevention and extinguishing), which benefits Pinus spp. and allows these larger conifers to outcompete Cupressus arizonica var. abramsiana.

No known uses or trade of this variety. It is possibly planted as an ornamental on some private properties in the area.

The largest subpopulation is partly found within the Bonnie Doon National Reserve, however, the remaining subpopulations are outside any protected areas. Conservation actions should aim to prevent increased pressure from urban development and manage fire risks in a way that does not in the long term disadvantage this taxon.





  • Farjon, A. (2010). A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
  • Eckenwalder, J.E. (2009) Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press, Portland.
  • IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. Cambridge, UK /Gland, Switzerland

Copyright © Aljos Farjon, James E. Eckenwalder, IUCN, Conifers Garden. All rights reserved.

Product CodeCUP3L5MA99
Weight1.5 kg
Height15 - 20 cm

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