Overview

Comprehensive Description

General Description

Trees to 45 m tall; trunk 3 (-6) m d.b.h.; branchlets densely arranged, often glaucous, stout, usually 4-angled, rarely terete, ultimate ones not drooping, 1.5-2 mm in diameter. Leaves closely arranged, in 4 ranks, glaucous, scalelike, obtusely ridged or arched (gibbous) and with a rounded central abaxial gland. Seed cones usually glaucous, oblong-globose, 1.5-2 cm long, 1.3-1.6 cm wide; cone scales circa 12, each fertile scale with numerous seeds; bracts with a prominent, large, free mucro at apex.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is found in China: south Xizang [Tibet] (Zangbo River Valley, from ca. 93° to ca. 96° E); and possibly extreme northwest Yunnan (vicinity of Dêqên on the Langcang [Mekong] River), based on a specimen collected in 1992.
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SE Xizang.
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Cupressus gigantea is occurring in SE Xizang.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Trees to 45 m tall; trunk 3(-6) m d.b.h.; branchlets densely arranged, often glaucous, stout, usually 4-angled, rarely terete, ultimate ones not drooping, 1.5-2 mm in diam. Leaves closely arranged, in 4 ranks, glaucous, scalelike, obtusely ridged or arched (gibbous) and with a rounded central abaxial gland. Seed cones usually glaucous, oblong-globose, 1.5-2 × 1.3-1.6 cm; cone scales circa 12, each fertile scale with numerous seeds; bracts with a prominent, large, free mucro at apex. 2n = 22*
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Diagnostic Description

Cupressus gigantea is close relative of Cupressus chengiana, but differs from the latter in its glaucous (vs. not glaucous) branchlets, bracts with a prominent, large, free mucro at apex (vs. a small, free mucro at apex).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is found in scattered stands or groves, with few other large shrubs, surrounded by open dry scrubland; usually on east-facing slopes, often seasonally grazed. It occurs in sandy or stony fluvio-glacial sediments or on slopes over limestone. The climate is seasonal (east monsoon, dry winds from the Tibetan Plateau in the west), with cold winters and with an annual precipitation of less than 500 mm; rainfall is from June-September.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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* Mountain slopes, along rivers; 3000-3400 m.
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Growing in mountain slopes, along rivers; 3000-3400 m.
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

Recent phylogenetic investigations of Cupressoideae have found evidence to suggest that Cupressus is not monophyletic. The Cupressus was divided into an Old World clade and a New World clade. Data from anatomy, biochemistry, micromorphology, reproductive development, reproductive morphology, and vegetative morphology were combined with molecular sequence data (matK, NEEDLY intron 2, nrITS, rbcL, and trnL) to produce the most complete hypothesis of evolutionary relationships within Cupressoideae. Callitropsis, Cupressus, and Juniperus formed a well-supported monophyletic group (100%). Within this clade, the only demonstrably monophyletic genus was Juniperus (100%). Monophyly of the Old World species of Cupressus was well supported (100%). Old World species of Cupressus were sister to Juniperus (99%). Callitropsis and the New World species of Cupressus were resolved as the sister group to the Old World Cupressus plus Juniperus clade (100%) (Little, 2006).
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

The chromosomal number of Cupressus gigantea is 2n = 22 (Liang, 1990).
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Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Cupressus gigantea

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 gigantea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
A2cd

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Zhang, D, Qin, H.-n., Christian, T. & Rushforth, K.

Reviewer/s
Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
The historic loss of up to 50% of mature individuals in the last three generations (60 to 115 years) places this taxon in the Vulnerable category under criterion A.

History
  • 1998
    Vulnerable
  • 1997
    Vulnerable
    (Walter and Gillett 1998)
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Population

Population

Wang et al. (2010) surveyed 13 quadrants within the area 28 59’ 22” to 28 59’ 49” N and 93 16’ 52” – 93 18’ 57” E (3120 m to 3210 m a.s.l.) each covering an area of 1 km2 which between them contained ca 366 mature individuals. Regeneration throughout this area was poor.

In one location, near Linzhi, an estimated 300-500 mature individuals were directly observed in 2007 but with no regeneration.

The variety is common along the Yarlung Tsangpo valley from Nang for about 30-40 km with more scattered trees at higher elevations along the same stretch. An estimated 2000 mature individuals occur in this area, and “copious regeneration” has been observed. (Direct observations by Keith Rushforth, 1995-1999).

It is estimated that the number of mature individuals throughout the range do not total more than 5000 trees.

Since 1998 the extant population of mature individuals is believed to have stabilized.


Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats

Due to the scarcity of timber in the region where scattered groves of var. gigantea occur, there is continuous pressure for exploitation. Regeneration is often poor due to grazing of livestock. Extensive logging (estimated at around 50% of mature individuals) took place between the 1960s and 1980s. Wang et al. (2010) found regeneration to be poor throughout their entire study area, and further direct observations support this for the area around Linzhi. A decline in the quality of habitat around Linzhi has been observed, and is a result of deforestation and subsequent soil erosion.

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Cupressus gigantea is reported be vulnerable (Conifer Specialist Group, 1998).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions

Several groves are protected as 'sacred forest' by Buddhist monks and some of the largest trees are on grounds used as a cemetery, where any cutting is prohibited. Other locations have also been designated as a National Park and protected by local government. The taxon is cultivated in botanic gardens both within China and in the UK where conservation collections of known wild origin are maintained.

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Wikipedia

Cupressus gigantea

Cupressus gigantea, the Tibetan cypress, is a species of conifer in the Cupressaceae family in Asia.

Distribution [edit]

It is endemic and found only in Southeast Tibet - China. Populations are concentrated along the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Cupressus gigantea is the biggest of all Cupressus species.

King Cypress [edit]

The biggest known specimen is famous King Cypress, about 50 meters high, 5.8 meters in diameter, 0.165-acre (670 m2) of crown-projection-area; and calculated age of 2,600 years.

Source [edit]

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Notes

Comments

An endangered species. Perhaps better treated as a variety of Cupressus torulosa, from which it differs mainly in its thicker ultimate branchlets, which are not drooping but spreading (xeromorphy), and in that some stands in SE Xizang contain very massive trees. However, some herbarium specimens of C. torulosa collected outside China in the W Himalayan region have similarly thick foliage, while another specimen from SE Xizang has ultimate branchlets only 0.8 mm wide.
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