Arizona Cypress [Cupressus stephensonii Wolf]

Arizona Cypress [Cupressus stephensonii Wolf]

Listing CNPS List 1B R-E-D Code 3-3-3

State/Federal. Status -- /C1 CUPRESSACEAE cones Jan-Dec.

Global Rank G1 State Rank S1.2

Distribution: San Diego County; Arizona; Baja California, Mexico

Habitat: Closed Cone Coniferous Forest and Montane Chaparral are the preferred habitat for this substantial tree. On Cuyamaca Peak this species grows on relatively xeric west-facing slopes, on Las Posas stony fine sandy loam.

Known Sites: The Cuyamaca and Japacha Peak area is now heavily utilized by "novice" hikers and fire is an omnipresent threat. Although the cypress stand is isolated near King Creek, its portion of the mountain has never recovered from the last major fire approximately four decades ago. Historically reduced rainfalls may be a factor, with the stand endangered by a natural ecological change to its habitat. A visit to the primary site showed much of the population restricted to drainages with limited recruitment within the intervening chaparral. Most of the trees appeared to be robust "adolescents" with few mature specimens. Thick chaparral makes movement difficult within the primary groves.

Thirteen specimens from Baja California are found in the San Diego Natural History Museum's herbarium; south to 31 39' North at the edge of an arroyo at El Agua Colorado in the Sierra Juarez where collected by Moran (SD 98620).

Status: Populations of Cuyamaca Cypress are stable in San Diego County. All Southern California populations should be protected. This local population is well isolated and beyond the extreme periphery of the range of the closely related Arizona Cypress. Although the 1993 Jepson manual lists the Cuyamaca Cypress in synonymy with the Cupressus arizonica ssp. arizonica, the CNPS reports that genetic evidence does not support this interpretation. The Arizona Cypress is concentrated in four southeastern counties of Arizona, one county in New Mexico, and two northern states of Mexico.

Copyright May 1994 Craig H. Reiser.

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