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Cupressus torulosa D. Don

Himalayan Cypress

Modern name

Cupressus torulosa D.Don

A tree up to 150 ft high in the Himalaya, with horizontal branches, and bark peeling off in long strips. Branchlets arranged in opposite ranks, more or less drooping, the final subdivisions equally four-sided, about 120 in. in diameter. Leaves of equal size, deep green, scale-like; overlapping at the base, the terminal part ovate, bluntish, incurved and thickened at the point, often grooved on the back. Cones purplish when young, globose, very shortly stalked, 12 to 23 in. in 1 diameter; scales eight, rarely ten, each with a small central boss.

Discovered by Buchanan-Hamilton during his famous journey in Nepal, 1802-3; introduced in 1824. It is tender, and only seen to advantage in the southern and western counties. Specimens at Hewell Grange, Worcs., were mentioned in previous editions; the taller of two there, planted in 1866, measures 76 × 512 ft (1963). At Nettlecombe in Somerset there are four trees, the tallest 92 ft high (1959). Others grow at Scorrier, Cornwall, and Keir House, Perths.

var. corneyana (Knight and Perry) Carr. – In this variety the branchlets are arranged irregularly rather than in two opposite ranks, and they are more pendulous. It was distributed by Knight and Perry before 1850, but the origin of the seed is uncertain. There are examples of this variety at Kew; at Batsford Park, Glos.; and in Eire at Fota, Co. Cork, and Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

specimens: Borde Hill, Sussex, in Warren Wood, 66 × 334 ft (1978); Woburn Abbey, Beds., 66 × 612 ft at 3 ft (1977); Lyndon House, Rutland, 72 × 314 ft (1984); Hewell Grange, Worcs., pl. 1866, 77 × 534 ft (1974); Nettlecombe, Som., 102 × 15 ft (1984); Heanton Satchville, Devon, 45 × 312 ft in 1905, now 84 × 634 ft (1981); Rossie Priory, Perths., 70 × 714 ft (1984); Keir House, Perths., 71 × 8 ft (1985); Stonefield, Argyll, 50 × 314 ft (1981); Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, Eire, 69 × 612 ft (1985); Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, Eire, 62 × 434 ft in 1931, now 90 × 714 ft (1980).

var. corneyana – This is perhaps better regarded as a distinct species – C. corneyana Carr. According to Grierson and Long, Flora of Bhutan, it is confined to that country in the wild state but is planted as a sacred tree elsewhere in the eastern Himalaya. A difference between it and C. torulosa which should have been mentioned is that the branchlet systems are not flattened as they are in the latter.

Note. – C. corneyana was described by Carrière in 1855 from a plant received from the Chelsea firm of Knight and Perry, who named and listed this cypress in 1847. They appear to have had no record of its origin, but the specific epithet suggests that they thought the seed had come from a Mr Corney, a merchant who had previously sent them seeds of various plants from China. All the early authorities acquainted with the plants sent out by Knight and Perry considered they were near to C. torulosa, but Silba has recently concluded that C. corneyana, as cultivated in Europe, belongs to the Mexican C. lusitanica (op. cit. (1983), pp. 359-60). If this is indeed the case, the Himalayan tree will need a new name. It may be added that Knight and Perry did not know the origin of their ‘Cupressus Knightiana’, also first listed by them in 1847, but this is a form of C. lusitanica var. benthamii, which was raised, Elwes and Henry suggested, from seeds sent from Mexico by Hartweg. If Silba is right, C. corneyana could have been of like origin.



Other species in the genus