The Blue Arizona Cypress Cupressus Arizonica Fastigata

The Latin name for the Blue Arizona Cypress tree is Cupressus arizonica. C. Arizonica is an evergreen, coniferous tree with ovoid, scaly gray-green to blue-green leaves two to five millimeters in length. Moderate in height, the tree between 10m and 25m (33′-82′).

Growing as tall as it does, the Blue Cypress is perfect for growing in rows at the perimeter of a property to act as a screen and provide a measure of privacy. It is not uncommon for it to be used in this way. It may also be grown in containers to restrict its growth and prune into creative forms such as spirals or pom poms. It may also be trained into whimsical shapes like small animals. This is called topiary.

The oblong-shaped cones of Cupressus arizonica change in color from green to brown-gray when they mature. This takes place two years after pollination during the months of February and March of each year. The cones remain tightly closed unless opened by the stimulus of a fire. Opening of the cones allows seeds to be dispersed to foster new growth on the bare ground.

The blue cypress is simple to grow. Tolerant of a soil pH between neutral and mildly alkaline (pH 7 to pH 8.5), it grows best in low fertile soils. Among the soils in which it thrives are sandy, clay, loamy, silty and various combinations of those soil types.

The blue cypress is reasonably tolerant of arid conditions. It needs a moderate amount of water. To grow properly, it needs an environment of fewer than 205 frosty days a year.

This variant of cypress tree is not particular about its location in the garden landscape, although it does seem to dislike thin, chalky soils or soggy conditions. It is more columnar in shape than its Italian cousin, Cupressus sempivirens, and therefore hardier. As the tree gets older, it should be tied into place if it is to thrive in the harsh conditions of winter time.

The blue Arizona cypress tree is native to the southwestern states in America (New Mexico, California, Texas and Arizona) as well as parts of Mexico (Coahuila, Zacatecus, Chihuahua, Tamaulpas, Baja and Durango). In the wild, it grows in small clusters as opposed to dense forests. It does grow alongside pine trees and oak trees, for example, in the San Pedro Martir forest, where it is found with California Fan Palm and Canyon Live Oak trees.

Cupressus arizonica has been observed in the Animus and San Luis Mountain ranges. The San Luis range hugs the border between Mexico and Arizona at low elevations. Trending northwest to southeast, the range is between eight and ten miles long. These mountains are on the border of the Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge about five miles away from Arivaca Lake. The Animas Mountains are located in the ‘Boot Heel’ of the American State of New Mexico in Hidalgo County. They run north-south along a hydrological feature known internationally as the Continental, or Great, Divide. This separates the feeds from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

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