This cypress, apart from its elegant growth, is interesting as being the only species of Cupressus indigenous to India. It is a native of the Himalayas in the Bhotan district, and it also occurs on the borders of Chinese Tartary. It forms, therefore, a connecting link, as it were, between the true cypresses of the extreme east and those that are natives of Europe. It is singular to note that this genus of conifers extends throughout the entire breadth of the northern hemisphere, Cupressus funebris representing the extreme east in China, and C. macrocarpa the extreme west on the Californian seacoast. The northerly and southerly limits, it is interesting to mark, are, on the contrary, singularly restricted, the most southerly being found in Mexico; the most northerly (C. nutkaensis) in Nootka Sound, and the subject of these remarks (C. torulosa) in Bhotan. The whole of the regions intervening between these extreme lateral points have their cypresses. The European species are C. lusitanica (the cedar of Goa), which inhabits Spain and Portugal; C. sempervirens (the Roman cypress), which is centered chiefly in the southeasterly parts of Europe, extending into Asia Minor. Farther eastward C. torulosa is met with, and the chain is extended eastward by C. funebris, also known as C. pendula.
The headquarters of the cypresses are undoubtedly in the extreme west, for here may be found some four or five distinct species, including the well-known C. Lawsoniana, probably the most popular of all coniferae in gardens, C. Goveniana, C. Macnabiana, C. macrocarpa, and C. nutkaensis (spelt C. nutkanus by the Californian botanists). The eastern representative of the cypresses in the United States of North America is C. thyoides, popularly known as the white cedar. In Mexico three or four species occur, so that the genus in round numbers only contains about a dozen species. The Californian botanist Mr. Sereno Watson takes away Lawson's cypress from Cupressus and puts it in the genus Chamaecyparis, the chief points of distinction being the flattened two-ranked branchlets and the small globose cones maturing the first year.
All the cypresses are undoubtedly valuable from a garden point of view, but the various species vary in degree as regards their utility as ornamental subjects. I should rank them in the following order in point of merit: C. Lawsoniana, C. nutkaensis, C. macrocarpa, C. sempervirens, C. thyoides, C. Macnabiana, and C. Goveniana; then would follow C. torulosa, C. funebris, C. Knightiana, and other Mexican species. These are placed last, not because they are less elegant than the others, but on account of their tenderness, all being liable to succumb to our damp and cold winters. The species which concerns us at present, C. torulosa, is an old introduction, seeds of it having been sent to this country by Wallich so long back as 1824, and previous to this date it was found by Royle on the Himalayas, growing at elevations of some 11,500 feet above sea level. Coming from such a height, one would suppose it to be hardier than it really is, but its tenderness may probably be accounted for by the wood not getting thoroughly ripened during our summers. It is a very handsome tree, said to reach from 20 feet to 125 feet in height in its native habitat.
It has a perfectly straight stem; the growth is pyramidal or rather conical, and the old wood is of a warm purplish-brown. The foliage is a glaucous gray-green, and the branches have a twisted and tufted appearance.
There are several varieties of it which are, or have been, in cultivation. Of these one of the best is corneyana, which Gordon ranked as a distinct species. It was supposed to be Chinese, and was introduced to cultivation by Messrs. Knight & Perry, the predecessors of Messrs. Veitch at the Chelsea Nurseries. It differs from C. torulosa proper, its habit being of low stature, and has slender pendulous branches; hence, it has been known in gardens by the names of C. gracilis, C. cernua, and C. pendula. Other varieties of C. torulosa are those named in gardens and nurseries - viridis, a kind devoid of the glaucous foliage of the original; majestica, a robust variety; and nana, a very dwarf and compact-growing sort. There is also a so-called variegated form, but it is not worthy of mention. The synonyms of C. torulosa itself are C. cashmeriana, C. nepalensis, and C. pendula. Having regard to the tenderness of this Bhotan cypress, it should only be planted in the warmest localities, and in dry sheltered positions; upland districts, too, provided they are sheltered, are undoubtedly suitable for it, inasmuch as growth is retarded in spring, and, therefore, the young shoots escape injury from late spring frosts. - W.G., in The Garden.