A coniferous tree (cupressus, Linn.), remarkable for the durability of its timber, distinct from the pines and firs by its leaves being reduced to mere scales, and by its cones consisting of a few woody bracts, each of which bears several small angular seeds. The common evergreen or upright cypress (C. sempervirens, Willd,) is tapering, with upright branches growing close to the trunk, resembling in general appearance the Lorn-bardy poplar, and attaining in its native condition an altitude of 50 or 60 ft., though sometimes it is found much higher. According to Duhamel, a substance resembling gum traga-canth exudes in small particles from the bark of the young trees, and is collected by the bees. It is this species which, found wild in the islands of the archipelago, particularly Candia, and in Cyprus, Greece, Turkey (chiefly in Asia Minor), and Persia, has been for a long time transferred to gardens for the sake of its deep evergreen branches and leaves, and for the gloomy air it imparts to the localities it occupies. Among the Turks it is much esteemed for planting in cemeteries, and is used to such extent that these grounds resemble forests of cypress. It is the kind mentioned in the Scriptures, and was famous among the ancients.
Instances are related of doors and posts made of its wood which had lasted 1,100 years. The odor of the cypress was considered so balsamic, that the eastern physicians used to send their patients troubled with lung complaints to the island of Candia for a residence. Any garden soil suits the cypress, but a deep and rather dry and sheltered soil is best. It can be raised from the seeds, sown in shallow pans, and the young plants on reaching three or four inches in height need to be potted off and kept for a few years with some care to render them fit for transplanting into open grounds. Cuttings taken from the younger branches, if planted during the autumn, will grow and succeed. Little training is necessary, on account of its natural tendency to grow upright. The G. horizontalis (Duhamel) has spreading branches, which when loaded, as they usually are, with large round cones, render the tree a beautiful object. It is considered only a fine variety of the common cypress. The Portuguese cypress (C. Lusitanica, Tournefort), a native of Goa in the East Indies, has fiexuous, spreading branches, and imbricated, acute, keeled, glaucous, adpressed leaves in four rows. It has been long naturalized in Portugal, where it attains a large size.
The weeping cypress (G. pendula, Thunberg) is a native of China; it has a large, expanded head, and dichotomous branches, which are much divided; its leaves are imbricated in four rows, are rather stem-clasping and triquetrous, keeled, and adpressed. According to Loudon, some uncertainty is attached to this species. Mention is made of it in Lambert's "Pines " and in Staunton's "Embassy," and it is the jimovo of Kampfer. In the United States, the cypress is represented in the white cedar. II. The deciduous cypress (taxodium distichum, Richard) is a stately tree of the pine family, much admired for its foliage of a most delicate light green, which falls in autumn after turning to a bright tawny color. Its leaves are linear and spreading, awl-shaped, and imbricated on the branches which produce the flowers; its seed vessels or strobiles are small, subglobose, and formed of angular woody scales. This lofty tree is a native of the middle and southern states of North America, extending from Delaware to the extreme south. Its trunk is very thick, often from 25 to 40 ft. in circumference at the base, and attaining to 120 ft. in height.
The branch-lets are very slender, elegantly pinnate; the leaves pectinate and distichous, spreading horizontally from being twisted at the base, linear, mucronulate, flat, one-nerved, glabrous on both sides, light green, margins acute, exterior somewhat convex, half an inch or more in length, and about a line broad. The tree, as it grows old, according to Michaux, has a spreading, broad head; but it assumes a great variety of forms, when raised artificially from the seeds. Loudon, in his Arboretum Britanni-cum, enumerates four principal forms, viz.: 1, the species having the branches horizontal, or somewhat inclined upward; 2, with the branches pendulous; 3, with the branches horizontal, and the young shoots of the year pendulous, the leaves being twisted and compressed around them in the early part of the season, but fully expanded, like those of the species, toward autumn; 4, with the leaves on the young shoots tortuous, and the branches pendulous. It is in the southern states, particularly in Florida, that the deciduous cypress attains its largest size, when it grows in the deep, miry soil of the swamps. The base of its trunk is usually hollow for three fourths of its bulk, and its surface is longitudinally furrowed with deep tortuous channels.
The roots of the large trees, particularly in situations exposed to inundations, have strange-looking conical protuberances, called cypress knees, which rise above the soil about 2 ft. in height, and sometimes from 4 to 5 ft. in thickness; these are hollow, smooth, and covered with a reddish bark like the roots, which they resemble also in the softness of the wood. The wood of the trunk is esteemed for timber, and being imperishable under water, is largely used for foundations of buildings and for piles in wet localities. It is also invaluable for carpentry, being straight grained, soft, and easily worked. In the swamps of the south and of New Jersey immense numbers of fallen cypress trunks are found at considerable depths, and in sound condition notwithstanding the great length of time that they must have been submerged.
Evergreen Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens).
Cupressus sempervirens - Leaves and Cones.
Spreading Cypress (Cupressus horizontalis).