Gowen cypress is a native, evergreen tree. The typical subspecies (Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana) has a bushy growth form and grows from 16.5 to 23 feet (5-7 m) tall [5,18,27]. Mendocino cypress has a single, slender trunk and sparse crown [18,27]. It grows from 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) tall on sterile soils and from 33 to 165 feet (10-50 m) tall on richer soils [5,18,27]. Mature leaves of both subspecies are 0.04 to 0.08 inches (1-2 mm) long, although they can be up to 0.4 inch (10 mm) long on vigorous shoots . Ovulate cones are solitary, up to 0.8 inch (20 mm) long. Staminate cones are 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3-4 mm) long [18,27]. The bark is smooth and fibrous, becoming rougher with age. It can be several centimeters thick [5,27]. The bark of Mendocino cypress occurs in strips, peeling easily after death of the tree, but otherwise intact . Gowen cypress forms a well-defined taproot and numerous laterals the first year [8,27]. The root systems of Gowen cypress are extensive and shallow, less than 1 foot (30 cm) deep .
- 18. Munz, Philip A. 1973. A California flora and supplement. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1905 p. 
- 5. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. 
- 8. Johnson, LeRoy C. 1974. Cupressus L. cypress. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., technical coordinator. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 363-369. 
- 26. Vogl, Richard J.; Armstrong, Wayne P.; White, Keith L.; Cole, Kenneth L. 1977. The closed-cone pines and cypress. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 295-358. 
- 27. Wolf, Carl B.; Wagener, Willis W. 1948. The New World cypresses. El Aliso Series: Vol. 1. Anaheim, CA: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. 444 p.