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Gowen Cypress Cupressus goveniana


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Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Native bushy evergreen. Crown conic, sometimes sparse. Bark brown, smooth fibrous, rougher with age. Foliage in dense sprays, dark to yellow-green. Leaves scale-like, 2-5 mm. long, rounded shoots. Cones globose to oblong, 12-22 mm. long, with 6 to 10 scales, green, maturing brown to gray-brown. Male cones 3-5 mm. long, and release pollen in February/March. Cones closed for many years, opening after the parent tree is killed in a wildfire, allowing the seeds to colonize bare ground exposed by the fire.

Dimensions Height: 4.6-9 m. (15-30 ft.)
Diameter: 0.15-0.5 m. (1/2-1 1/2 ft.).

Endangered Status A subspecies of the Gowen Cypress, Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana, is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as threatened in California. This tree lives in just two groves in Monterey County. It grows in coastal forests composed mainly of closed-cone pines, which are also called fire pines, as their cones stay on the tree for years until fire melts the resinous coating that cements them closed, allowing the seeds to be released. Its threatened status can be attributed to fire supression practices and degradation of habitat due to a number of modifying factors, such as development of the land for industrial, residential, or recreational projects, including golf courses.

Habitat Scrub, shrub & brushlands, Mountains.

Range California.

Discussion Named for James Robert Gowen, a 19th century British horticulturist.
Species occurs in only two areas of Monterey County, California:
Huckleberry Hill, and between San Jose Creek and Gibson Creek.
Mendocino cypress occurs in a narrow, discontinuous strip along the
Mendocino County coast known as the "Mendocino White Plains" or "pine
barrens". A grove occurs in Sonoma County.