Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Temporal range: Early Jurassic–Present (possible Late Triassic records)
Cupressus sempervirens foliage and cones
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Gymnospermae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Family: Cupressaceae

Cupressaceae is a

dioecious trees and shrubs up to 116 m (381 ft) tall. The bark
of mature trees is commonly orange- to red-brown and of stringy texture, often flaking or peeling in vertical strips, but smooth, scaly or hard and square-cracked in some species.


Fallen foliage sprays (cladoptosis) of Metasequoia


decussate pairs (opposite pairs, each pair at 90° to the previous pair) or in decussate whorls of three or four, depending on the genus. On young plants, the leaves are needle-like, becoming small and scale-like on mature plants of many genera; some genera and species retain needle-like leaves throughout their lives.[1] Old leaves are mostly not shed individually, but in small sprays of foliage (cladoptosis);[1] exceptions are leaves on the shoots that develop into branches. These leaves eventually fall off individually when the bark starts to flake. Most are evergreen with the leaves persisting 2–10 years, but three genera (Glyptostrobus, Metasequoia and Taxodium) are deciduous
or include deciduous species.

Tetraclinis cones


pollen cones are more uniform in structure across the family, 1–20 mm long, with the scales again arranged spirally, decussate (opposite) or whorled, depending on the genus; they may be borne singly at the apex of a shoot (most genera), in the leaf axils (Cryptomeria), in dense clusters (Cunninghamia and Juniperus drupacea), or on discrete long pendulous panicle
-like shoots (Metasequoia and Taxodium).

Cupressaceae is a widely distributed conifer family, with a near-global range in all continents except for Antarctica, stretching from 70°N in arctic

Pilgerodendron uviferum), further south than any other conifer species.[4] Juniperus indica reaches 4930 m altitude in Tibet.[5] Most habitats on land are occupied, with the exceptions of polar tundra and tropical lowland rainforest [citation needed] (though several species are important components of temperate rainforests and tropical highland cloud forests); they are also rare in deserts[citation needed], with only a few species able to tolerate severe drought, notably Cupressus dupreziana [who?] in the central Sahara. Despite the wide overall distribution, many genera and species show very restricted relictual distributions, and many are endangered species

The world's largest (Sequoiadendron giganteum) and tallest (Sequoia sempervirens) trees belong to the Cupressaceae, as do six of the ten longest-lived tree species.


Cunninghamia Fangshan, Zhejiang, China
Taiwania cryptomerioides
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg
Athrotaxis selaginoides, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania
Taxodium distichum in an oxbow lake, central Mississippi

Molecular and morphological studies have expanded Cupressaceae to include the genera of

Cupressoideae. The former Taxodiaceae genus, Sciadopitys, has been moved to a separate monotypic family Sciadopityaceae due to being genetically distinct from the rest of the Cupressaceae. In some classifications Cupressaceae is raised to an order, Cupressales. Molecular evidence supports Cupressaceae being the sister group to the yews (family Taxaceae), from which it diverged during the early-mid Triassic. The clade comprising both is sister to Sciadopityaceae, which diverged from them during the early-mid Permian.[6] The oldest definitive record of Cupressaceae is Austrohamia minuta from the Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian) of Patagonia, known from many parts of the plant.[7] The reproductive structures of Austrohamia have strong similarities to those of the primitive living cypress genera Taiwania and Cunninghamia. By the Middle to Late Jurassic Cupressaceae were abundant in warm temperate–tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The diversity of the group continued to increase during the Cretaceous period.[8] The earliest appearance of the non-taxodiaceous Cupressaceae (the clade containing Callitroideae and Cupressoideae) is in the mid-Cretaceous, represented by "Widdringtonia" americana from the Cenomanian of North America, and they subsequently diversified during the Late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic.[9]

The family is divided into seven subfamilies, based on genetic and morphological analysis as follows:[10][11]

A 2010 study of Actinostrobus and Callitris places the three species of Actinostrobus within an expanded Callitris based on analysis of 42 morphological and anatomical characters.[16]

Phylogeny based on 2000 study of morphological and molecular data.[17] Several further papers have suggested the segregation Cupressus species into four total genera.[18][19]








Callitris (sometimes including Actinostrobus and Neocallitropsis)


Chamaecyparis (sometimes including Fokienia)

Cupressus (sometimes split into Callitropsis, Cupressus, Hesperocyparis, and Xanthocyparis)


A 2021 molecular study supported a very similar phylogeny but with some slight differences, along with the splitting of Cupressus (found to be paraphyletic):[6]



Juniperus bermudiana was the key to Bermuda's shipbuilding industry, and used in building houses, and in furniture. It also comprised the habitat for other endemic and native species, and provided Bermudians with shelter from wind and sun.

Many of the species are important

. Its heartwood is fragrant and used in clothes chests, drawers and closets to repel moths. It is a source of juniper oil used in perfumes and medicines. The wood is also used as long lasting fenceposts and for bows.

Several genera are important in horticulture.

Giant sequoia is a popular ornamental tree[27] and is occasionally grown for timber.[28] Giant sequoia,[29] Leyland cypress, and Arizona cypress are grown to a small extent as Christmas trees.[30]

Some species have significant cultural importance. The

Monterey cypresses are often visited by tourists and photographers, particularly a tree known as the Lone Cypress.[36]

The fleshy cones of Juniperus communis are used to flavour gin.

Native Americans and early European explorers used Thuja leaves as a cure for scurvy. Distillation of Fokienia roots produces an essential oil called pemou oil[37] used in medicine and cosmetics.[38]

Recent progress on Endophyte Biology in Cupressaceae, by the groups of Jalal Soltani (Bu-Ali Sina University) and Elizabeth Arnold (Arizona University) have revealed prevalent symbioses of endophytes and endofungal bacteria with family Cupressaceae. Furthermore, current and potential uses of Cupressaceous tree's endophytes in agroforestry and medicine is shown by both groups.


The Cupressaceae trees contain a wide range of extractives, especially terpenes and terpenoids,[39] both of which have strong and often pleasant odors.


heartwood, bark and leaves are the tree parts richest in terpenes.[40] Some of these compounds are widely distributed in other trees as well, and some are typical for Cupressaceae family. The most known terpenoids found in conifers are sesquiterpenoids, diterpenes and tropolones. Diterpenes are commonly found in different types of conifers and are not typical for this family. Some sesquiterpenoids (e.g. bisabolanes, cubenanes, guaianes, ylanganes, himachalanes, longifolanes, longibornanes, longipinanes, cedranes, thujopsanes) also present in Pinaceae, Podocarpaceae and Taxodiaceae.[39] Meanwhile, chamigranes, cuparanes, widdranes and acoranes are more distinctive for Cupressaceae. Tropolone derivatives, such as nootkatin, chanootin, thujaplicinol and hinokitiol
are particularly characteristic for Cupressaceae.

Disease vectors

Several genera are an alternate host of Gymnosporangium rust, which damages apples and other related trees in the subfamily Maloideae.[41]



monoicous variants of Austrocedrus and Widdringtonia.[44] However, the females of some species have a very low potential for causing allergies (an OPALS allergy scale rating of 2 or lower) including Austrocedrus females and Widdringtonia females.[44]


  1. ^ a b c Watson, Frank D.; Eckenwalder, James E. (1993). "Cupressaceae". In Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). Vol. 2. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 6 September 2013 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
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  6. ^ from the original on 10 January 2022. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  7. from the original on 14 November 2023. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  8. from the original on 15 February 2023. Retrieved 15 February 2023.
  9. .
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  12. ^ a b c d e Armin Jagel, Veit Dörken: Morphology and morphogenesis of the seed cones of the Cupressaceae - part I. Cunninghamioideae, Athrotaxoideae, Taiwanioideae, Sequoioideae, Taxodioideae. In: Bulletin of the Cupressus Conservation Project, 3(3): 117-136 (PDF Archived 27 September 2016 at the Wayback Machine)
  13. S2CID 237705866
  14. ^ Armin Jagel, Veit Dörken: Morphology and morphogenesis of the seed cones of the Cupressaceae - part III. Callitroideae. In: Bulletin of the Cupressus Conservation Project 4(3): 91-103 (PDF Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine)
  15. ^ Armin Jagel, Veit Dörken: Morphology and morphogenesis of the seed cones of the Cupressaceae - part II. Cupressoideae. In: Bulletin of the Cupressus Conservation Project 4(2): 51-78 (PDF Archived 11 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine)
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  19. ^ Xiang, Q.; Li, J. (2005). "Derivation of Xanthocyparis and Juniperus from within Cupressus: Evidence from Sequences of nrDNA Internal Transcribed Spacer Region". Harvard Papers in Botany. 9 (2): 375–382.
  20. from the original on 31 October 2023. Retrieved 15 May 2023.
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  23. ^ Fu, Liguo; Yu, Yong-fu; Adams, Robert P.; Farjon, Aljos. "Glyptostrobus". Flora of China. Vol. 4 – via, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
  24. ^ "Junipers". Chicago Botanic Garden. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  25. ^ Westerfield, Bob (6 October 2022) [15 May 2009]. "Junipers". University of Georgia Extension. Archived from the original on 20 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  26. ^ Satoh, Keiko (14 November 1998). "Metasequoia Travels the Globe". Arnoldia. Vol. 58, no. 4. Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. pp. 72–75. Archived from the original on 14 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  27. ^ Cahill, Angela. "Nature's Masterpiece: Giant Sequoia". Pacific Horticulture. Archived from the original on 15 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
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  29. (PDF) from the original on 1 February 2023. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  30. ^ Owen, Jeff (November 2011). "Selecting the Right Tree". North Carolina State Extension. Archived from the original on 15 December 2022. Retrieved 14 December 2022.
  31. ^ "El ahuehuete, Árbol Nacional" [The ahuehuete, National Tree] (in Spanish). National Forestry Commission. 25 September 2018. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  32. ^ Debreczy, Zsolt; Racz, Istvan (1997). "El Arbor del Tule: The Ancient Giant of Oaxaca" (PDF). Arnoldia. 57 (4). Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University: 3–11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  33. ^ "State Tree – California Redwood". California State Capitol Museum. 20 October 2021. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
  34. ^ Thomas, Catherine Cullinane; Flyr, Matthew; Koontz, Lynne (June 2022). 2021 National Parks Visitor Spending Effects: Economic Contributions to Local Communities, States, and the Nation (PDF) (Report). Fort Collins, Colorado: U.S. National Park Service. pp. 36–37. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 November 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
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  36. ^ Reynolds, Christopher (19 May 2013). "Standing Before the Lone Cypress". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 19 December 2022. Retrieved 19 December 2022.
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  43. ^ Krihara (Kurihashi), M. (1997). "Physiochemical and immunological characterization of major allergens of Japanese cedar pollen and false cypress pollen". Allergology (in Japanese). 3: 203–211.
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Further reading

External links