Cupressus arizonica fastigiata is the Latin name for the Blue Arizona Cypress tree. This coniferous evergreen tree grows 10 to 25 meters (33 to 82 feet), which is considered medium in height. It has scale-like leaves that are between two and five millimeters long. The foliage ranges in color from dull gray-green to a bright blue-green.
The height of this Cypress tree makes it ideal for growing in rows of several plants to provide a privacy screen. It is very commonly used for this purpose. Grown in containers, it lends itself well to creative pruning to create topiary shapes. Popular shapes are a spiral or a series of balls or pom poms. It has also been pruned into animal shapes such as a rabbit.
C. Arizonica’s oblong cones mature from green to brownish-gray around two years after they have been pollinated during the months of February and March. They do not open unless the parent tree is killed in a fire. Once opened under this stimulus, seeds are dispersed into the bare ground, thus allowing the plant to re-colonize.
Fastigata is easy to grow. It tolerates a range of different soils from neutral (pH 7) to slightly alkaline (pH 8.5). It thrives in loam, silt, sand, clay, silty clay, sandy clay, clay loam, sandy loam, silty loam, loamy sand, sandy loam, sandy clay loam and silty clay loam. It seems to prefer soil conditions that are low in fertility.
The cypress tree’s tolerance to drought is moderate. It requires moderate amounts of water. In order to grow successfully, fastigiata requires at least 160 frost-free days a year.
Your Cupressus arizonicus is not fussy about where in the garden it is located. It does not like particularly wet conditions or thin, chalky soils. Older specimens resist winter damage more successfully if tied in place to retain their columnar shape. More columnar in shape than its Italian relative C. Sempivirens, it is also hardier.
The Arizona cypress is native to the southwestern United States (California, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas) and Mexico (Baja California, Durango, Chihuahua, Tamaulpas, Coahuila and Zacatecus). In the wild, it tends to grow in isolated clusters rather than in dense forests. In the pine-oaks forests of San Pedro Martir, Mexico, it grows alongside Canyon Live Oak and California Fan Palm.
The presence of Cupressus arizonica has been noted in the Animus Mountains and in the San Luis Mountains. The San Luis Mountains are a low elevation range on the Arizona-Mexico border. They trend southeast-northwest and run about eight or ten miles in length. The San Luis Mountains border the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge. Arivaca Lake lies five miles away. The Animas Mountains are a small range in Hidalgo County, New Mexico, in the so-called ‘boot heel’ region of the state. They run north to south along the Continental Divide, a hydrological divide separating the watersheds that drain into the Atlantic Ocean from those that feed into the Pacific. Also referred to as the Great Divide, this feature is prominent among similar structures because it follows the line of high peaks in the Andes and Rocky Mountain ranges.