Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens
This series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens is compiled by members of the Friends group and Gardens staff. We aim to build up to a comprehensive archive of trees in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Each article illustrates a tree growing in Belfast Botanic Gardens together with information from a range of sources. Where possible we will give the tree tag number - these are the small aluminium discs, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
The Monterey cypress is quite rare in the wild, being known only from two coastal cliff-tops near Monterey in California from where it was introduced into cultivation in about 1838. It is widely grown in temperate areas all over the world, particularly in coastal areas as it is salt-tolerant. It is a useful wind-break tree, but not suitable for hedging or for small gardens as it can reach 40m tall.
The leaves are tightly pressed to the stem and the stems are rounded not flattened (cf the Nootkat cypress). Separate male and female cones are produced in late winter/early spring. The male cones are yellow and the female cones are a start a bluish green. The female cones develop into a spherical shape with 6 to 14 scales and turn brown. These take 18 months or more to ripen.
The Monterey cypress is one parent of the widely grown hybrid Leyland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) the other parent being the Nootkat cypress (Xanthocyparis nootkatensis). This hybrid occurred in cultivation, first in Rostrevor in County Down in about 1870 and again in Leighton Hall in Powys in 1888. Most Leylands in cultivation derive from the latter cross.