Cupressus  abramsiana

Carl B. Wolf, The New World Cypresses, Volume I, El Aliso, Anaheim, California, (1948) p.215-216;221-222.

14. Cupressus Abramsiana - Santa Cruz Cypress

    CUPRESSUS ABRAMSIANA C. B. Wolf, species nova. Erect, densely branched tree up to 10 m. high, of symmetrical, pyramidal shape, equally broad at base, trunk well clothed with branches nearly to ground, main trunk not over 5 dm. in diam. at 1 m. from the ground, central leader straight with fairly thin gray bark broken into vertical strips or plates, or fibrous and shreddy. Larger branches 8 to 10 cm. in diam. and standing at right angles to trunk, but, when small, pointing upward at an acute angle. (A lower branch 7 cm. in diam. was 20 years old.) Foliage a rich light bright green; branchlets disposed on all sides of branches and either opposite or alternate, those of the season 10 to 15 mm. long, 1 to 1.5 mm. thick and persisting for several years. Leaves acute but blunt-pointed, about 1.5 mm. long, slightly narrower, well imbricated and forming slightly 4-sided branchlets. At first, the leaves show no sign of dorsal pit, but soon develop an inconspicuous, oval, closed pit or gland (apparently never functional). Older leaves, especially those on vigorous shoots, become greatly elongated and may be as much as 10 to 15 mm. long, 3 to 4 mm. wide and have a 2 to 4 mm. long acutely-pointed spreading tip. These soon become brown and are pushed off by the growth of the twig. Staminate cones produced in abundance at ends of branchlets which are slightly thicker and have leaves more imbricated than vegetative branchlets; at maturity they are 3 to 4 mm. long, 2 mm. thick, slightly 4-sided and are usually composed of 12 scales (10 to 16). Largest scales nearly 2 mm. broad, about as wide, their margins fimbriate; lower and upper scales usually bear 4 pollen sacs, while central or middle ones bear 5 or 6. Ovulate cones produced at tips of short branchlets which are even thicker and bear more closely imbricated leaves than staminate or vegetative branches. At first, these appear as blunt, enlarged structures a little over 2 mm. thick. Later the scale leaves spread apart exposing numerous ovules for pollination, after which they close and the cone develops to about 10 mm. in diam. the first season, being well rounded but not as thick as long. Scales usually 8 or sometimes 10; but, when 10, the 2 basal scales are usually very small. Umbos rather broad and narrow, about 2 mm. high, usually remaining green longer than the rest of the scale. During the second season the scales become a rich lustrous brown, the umbos are less conspicuous and appear only as broad raised central humps about 4 mm. broad. The stalk or branch bearing the mature cones is about 10 mm. long, 3 to 4 mm. thick and usually bears the remains of several dead leaves. At maturity the cones are nearly spherical, or elongate, but the face of each scale is somewhat flattened, the entire cone about 20 to 30 mm. long. The average cone contains about 62 seeds, these angular but somewhat flattened, 3 to 5 mm. long, slightly narrower, with a narrow hard wing, the surface of the body a little rough or echinate due to the minute raised pitch pockets, brown and slightly glaucous or merely brown and a little shiny; hilum conspicuous, very light tan, about 1 to 1.5 mm. or even 2 mm. long. Cotyledons 3 to 4, occasionally 5, about 10 mm. long, linear, but a little flattened and with an acute but blunt and spineless tip. The next seedling leaves are slightly shorter and minutely spine-tipped.

    Erecta, conferte ramosa ad 10 m. alta, habitu regulari, pyramidali. Foliis laete viridibus abrupte acutis, ca. 1.5 mm. longis, latitudine paulo minoribus, bene imbricatis, ramulos 4-gonos efformantibus, fovea vel glandula dorsali inconspicua. Foliis adultis majoribus ad 10-15 mm. longis, 3-4 mm. latis, apiœ patenti acuto 2-4 mm. longo. Amentis staminatis numerosis, ramulis fultis quam vegetativis crassioribus, maturis 3-4 mm. longis, 2 mm. crassis, squamis pro more 12 (10-16), maximis 2 mm. latis, margine fimbriatis, infimis supremisque thecis 4 pro more praeditis, medianis 5-6. Strobilis ovulatis primo truncate-dilatatis ca. 2 mm. crassis, squamis ovula multa ferentibus, anthesi peracta strobilo primo anno ad 10 mm. crasso, maturo ad 20-30 mm. longo, subsphaerico, seminibus ad 62, 1-1.5 vel ad 2 mm. longis. Cotyledonibus 3-4, raro 5 ca. 10 mm. longis.*

* Latin description by Dr. Leon Croizat, Arnold Arboretum, Harvard University.

Type Locality

    Santa Cruz Mountains, Santa Cruz County, California, on the southwest slope of Ben Lomond, a mountain 7/10 mi. east of the Bonnie Doon School, elevation 1600 feet, in the Arid Transition Life Zone in association with Pinus ponderosa and P. attenuata, Quercus Wislizenii var. frutescens and Haplopappus ericoides subsp. Blakei, growing in white sand. Type specimen in the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden Herbarium, sheet No. 17646, collected by Carl B. Wolf, Collection No. 6235 (Propagation No. 2185), November 9, 1934.
    This species was named in honor of Dr. L. R. Abrams, Emeritus Professor of Botany and Director of the Natural History Museum of Stanford University, author of an Illustrated Flora of the Pacific States, a Phytogeographic Study of the Trees and Shrubs of Southern California, author of Cupressus nevadensis, one of the most beautiful of the California species, and a member of the Advisory Board of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. In 1937 Dr. Abrams examined and studied the cypress trees with me at Bonnie Doon.



    I regard Cupressus Abramsiana as a species somewhat intermediate between C. Goveniana and C. Sargentii, but probably somewhat more closely related to the former species. It resembles C. Goveniana in its slender bright-green branchlets and its clusters of ovulate cones. Its large seeds which are often glaucous are a characteristic of C. Sargentii.
    The principal reason that I concluded that these cypress trees from Bonnie Doon, Eagle Rock, and perhaps also from the Butano Ridge should be described as a distinct species, was not because of outstanding characters which made them easily separable, but because including them under species already described would result in confusion and possibly necessitate further consolidations. In other words, I concluded that failure to recognize Cupressus Abramsiana as a separate species would make it impossible to retain C. Sargentii as distinct from C. Goveniana. Then too, C. pygmaea should be reduced to C. Goveniana. Thus, C. Goveniana would again include nearly everything it did in Englemann's treatment in Brewer and Watson's Botany of California in 1880. Furthermore, consolidation of this sort in this group of species could not be done consistently without making somewhat similar consolidations elsewhere in the genus, such as placing C. montana, C. nevadensis, C. Stephensonii and C. glabra under C. arizonica, and C. Forbesii under C. guadalupensis.