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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species is found in the eastern Mediterranean: Crete, Cyprus, East Aegean Is., Greece (?); N Africa: Libya; Western Asia: Iran, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey [W Mediterranean distribution based on cultigens].
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Distribution: E. Mediterranean, W. Asia. Widely cultivated.
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W. Asia, planted in Himalaya.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees up to 20 m or more tall, narrowly cylindrical. Branches upwardly appressed; branchelets dark green, slender. Leaves closely appressed, c. 1 mm long, ovate. Male cones 6‑9 mm long, terminal on branches. Female cones (mature) ± 20‑25 mm broad, yellowish‑grey. Scales peltate, 8‑14 in number. Seeds brown, compressed, winged, narrow.
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Description

Trees to 30 m tall; bark grayish brown, shallowly fissured; branches ascending or horizontally spreading; branchlets not arranged in a plane, ultimate ones 4-angled, ca. 1 mm in diam. Leaves in 4 ranks, densely appressed, dark green, not glaucous, 0.5-1 mm, ridged abaxially, without a conspicuous abaxial gland, apex obtuse or subacute. Pollen cones 4-8 mm. Seed cones yellowish gray when ripe, subglobose or ellipsoid, 2.5-4 × 2-3 cm; cone scales 8-14, each fertile scale with 8-20 seeds.
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Ecology

Habitat

The `pyramidal cypress' is widely cultivated in the plains and lower hills up to 1000 m. Cones mature in 2 years.
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Habitat & Distribution

Cultivated. Jiangsu, Jiangxi [native to W Asia, E Mediterranean region]
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Associations

Foodplant / pathogen
Seiridium cardinale infects and damages cankered trunk of Cupressus sempervirens

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cupressus sempervirens

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cupressus sempervirens

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Farjon, A.

Reviewer/s
Thomas, P.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species in its uncultivated form is very widespread but scattered; large and viable subpopulations exist as well as relict trees without successful reproduction in situ. It will certainly be of regional concern, e.g. in Israel and Lebanon, but globally it is still too abundant to be threatened with extinction. Exploitation has largely ceased, except local use for firewood in wood-deficient areas.

History
  • 1997
    Not Threatened
    (Walter and Gillett 1998)
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Population

Population
The global population of this species is very scattered, with sometimes extensive stands as seen in southern Turkey, but often few trees or even solitary trees.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
The species in a narrow sense (i.e. excluding cultivated forms) is widespread but scattered in the Middle East and quite rare in the most western parts of its range. The long history of both exploitation of its wood, which has led to decline, and introduction with cultivation, which has led to the spread of a fastigiate growth form across the Mediterranean and beyond, makes a true assessment of its status very difficult. It is, however, considered sufficiently abundant even in the truly wild form to be not in danger of extinction.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is present in several protected areas.
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These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Wikipedia

Cupressus sempervirens

For another "cedar" native to Iran, see Juniperus oxycedrus

Cupressus sempervirens, the Mediterranean Cypress (also known as Italian, Tuscan, or Graveyard Cypress, or Pencil Pine) is a species of cypress native to the eastern Mediterranean region, in northeast Libya, southern Albania, southeast Greece (Crete, Rhodes), southern Turkey, Cyprus, Northern Egypt, western Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Malta, Italy, western Jordan, and also a disjunct population in Iran. It is a medium-sized coniferous evergreen tree to 35 m (115 ft) tall, with a conic crown with level branches and variably loosely hanging branchlets.[1] It is very long-lived, with some trees reported to be over 1,000 years old.

The foliage grows in dense sprays, dark green in colour. The leaves are scale-like, 2–5 mm long, and produced on rounded (not flattened) shoots. The seed cones are ovoid or oblong, 25–40 mm long, with 10-14 scales, green at first, maturing brown about 20–24 months after pollination. The male cones are 3–5 mm long, and release pollen in late winter. It is moderately susceptible to cypress canker, caused by the fungus Seiridium cardinale, and can suffer extensive dieback where this disease is common. The species name sempervirens comes from the Latin for 'evergreen'.

Uses[edit]

Mediterranean Cypress has been widely cultivated as an ornamental tree for millennia away from its native range, mainly throughout the whole Mediterranean region, and in other areas with similar hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, including California, southwest South Africa and southern Australia. It can also be grown successfully in areas with cooler, moister summers, such as the British Isles, New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest (coastal Oregon, Washington and British Columbia). It is also planted in south Florida as an ornamental tree. In some areas, particularly the United States, it is known inaccurately as "Italian" or "Tuscan Cypress"; although the species is very commonly cultivated in Italy, it is not native there. Natural forest stands of the species mainly occur in the western part of the Mediterranean region of Turkey.

4000 years old Cypress of Abarqu, Iran

The vast majority of the trees in cultivation are selected cultivars with a fastigiate crown, with erect branches forming a narrow to very narrow crown often less than a tenth as wide as the tree is tall. The dark green "exclamation mark" shape of these trees is a highly characteristic signature of Mediterranean town and village landscapes. Formerly, the species was sometimes separated into two varieties, the wild C. sempervirens var. sempervirens (syn. var. horizontalis), and the fastigiate C. s. var. pyramidalis (syn. var. fastigiata, var. stricta), but the latter is now only distinguished as a Cultivar Group, with no botanical significance.

It is also known for its very durable, scented wood, used most famously for the doors of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome. Cypress used to be used in distilleries as staves to hold mash ferments to make alcohol before the invention of stainless steel.[2] Commonly seen throughout New Mexico, the Mediterranean Cypress is also known as the "drama tree" because of its tendency to bend with even the slightest of breezes.

In cosmetics it is used as astringent, firming, anti-seborrheic, anti-dandruff, anti-aging and as fragance.[3]

Iran's ancient cypresses[edit]

Cypress, Cupressus sempervirens, was the first choice for Iranian Gardens. In all of the famous Persian Gardens, such as Fin Garden, Mahaan, Dowlat-Abad, and others, this tree plays a central role in their design.[citation needed] The oldest living Cypress is the Sarv-e-Abarkooh in Iran's Yazd Province. Its age is estimated to be approximately 4,000 years.[4]

Symbolism[edit]

Fastigiate Mediterranean Cypress Cupressus sempervirens 'Stricta', planted in Hawaii

In classical antiquity, the cypress was a symbol of mourning and in the modern era it remains the principal cemetery tree in both the Muslim world and Europe. In the classical tradition, the cypress was associated with death and the underworld because it failed to regenerate when cut back too severely. Athenian households in mourning were garlanded with boughs of cypress.[5] Cypress was used to fumigate the air during cremations.[6] It was among the plants that were suitable for making wreaths to adorn statues of Pluto, the classical ruler of the underworld.[7]

The poet Ovid, who wrote during the reign of Augustus, records the best-known myth that explains the association of the cypress with grief. The handsome boy Cyparissus, a favorite of Apollo, accidentally killed a beloved tame stag. His grief and remorse were so inconsolable that he asked to weep forever. He was transformed into cupressus sempervirens, with the tree's sap as his tears.[8] In another version of the story, it was the woodland god Silvanus who was the divine companion of Cyparissus and who accidentally killed the stag. When the boy was consumed by grief, Silvanus turned him into a tree, and thereafter carried a branch of cypress as a symbol of mourning.[9]

In Greek mythology, besides Cyparissus, the cypress is also associated with Artemis and Hecate, a goddess of magic, crossroads and the underworld. Ancient Roman funerary rites used it extensively.

The most famous Muslim cemetery in Turkey where C. sempervirens is used widely is Istanbul Karacaahmet Cemetery. In Istanbul Turkish the tree is referred to as "Mezarlık Selvisi" (Cemetery Tree); its common name in Turkish and the name used in Turkish forestry is "Kara Selvi" (Black Cypress). Cypresses are mentioned extensively in the Shahnameh, the great Iranian epic poem by Ferdowsi.

Curiosity[edit]

In July 2012, a forest fire devastated for five days, 20,000 hectares of forest in the Valencian village of Andilla. However, amid the charred landscape, a group of 946 cypress trees about 22 years old was virtually unharmed, and only burned 12 cypress. Andilla cypresses were planted by the CypFire European project studying various aspects of the cypresses, including fire resistance.[10]

Cypresses after fire.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See also Uses section for the differing cultivated variants
  2. ^ Makers Mark
  3. ^ Carrasco, F. (2009). "Ingredientes Cosméticos". Diccionario de Ingredientes\ 4ª Ed. www.imagenpersonal.net. p. 267. ISBN 978-84-613-4979-1. 
  4. ^ Craig Glenday, ed. (2011). Guinness World Records. 
  5. ^ Servius, note to Vergil's Aeneid 3.680.
  6. ^ Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 17.7.34.
  7. ^ Natalis Comes, Mythologiae 2.9.
  8. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses 10.106ff.
  9. ^ Servius, note to Vergil's Georgics 1.20.
  10. ^ http://sociedad.elpais.com/sociedad/2012/08/12/actualidad/1344804535_438591.html

References[edit]

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