Cupressus glabra 'Carolina Safire': Smooth Barked Arizona Cypress1

Edward F. Gilman and Dennis G. Watson 2

Introduction

The species is a native of the American southwest, and is densely clothed in blue/grey leaves and becomes a narrow pyramid, perhaps reaching 50 to 70 feet tall. Exceptionally tolerant of hot, dry conditions, smooth barked Arizona cypress is ideal for use as a screen, hedge, or windbreak. The outer red/brown bark breaks off every year, revealing the fresh, new, bright red, smooth inner bark. Foliage of 'Carolina Safire' is one of the brightest blues you will ever see. Jump out of the way after planting this cultivar since it springs out of the ground, with young trees growing about 6 feet each year with irrigation.

Figure 1. Young Cupressus glabra 'Carolina Safire': smooth barked Arizona cypress
Figure 1.  Young Cupressus glabra 'Carolina Safire': smooth barked Arizona cypress
Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS

General Information

Scientific name: Cupressus glabra
Pronunciation: koo-PRESS-us GLAY-bruh
Common name(s): Smooth barked Arizona cypress
Family: Cupressaceae
USDA hardiness zones: 7A through 9B (Fig. 2)
Origin: native to North America
Invasive potential: little invasive potential
Uses: screen; hedge; specimen; bonsai
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the tree

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range

Description

Height: 50 to 70 feet
Spread: 10 to 15 feet
Crown uniformity: symmetrical
Crown shape: pyramidal, oval
Crown density: dense
Growth rate: fast
Texture: fine

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: opposite/subopposite (Fig. 3)
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: scale-like
Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see
Leaf type and persistence: evergreen
Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches
Leaf color: blue or blue-green
Fall color: no color change
Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage

Flower

Flower color: unknown
Flower characteristics: not showy

Fruit

Fruit shape: round
Fruit length: less than .5 inch
Fruit covering: dry or hard
Fruit color: brown
Fruit characteristics: does not attract wildlife; not showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches don't droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns
Pruning requirement: little required
Breakage: susceptible to breakage
Current year twig color: green
Current year twig thickness: thin
Wood specific gravity: unknown

Culture

Light requirement: full sun
Soil tolerances: clay; sand; loam; alkaline; acidic; well-drained
Drought tolerance: high
Aerosol salt tolerance: unknown

Other

Roots: not a problem
Winter interest: no
Outstanding tree: no
Ozone sensitivity: unknown
Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant
Pest resistance: sensitive to pests/diseases

Use and Management

Smooth barked Arizona cypress should be grown in full sun on well-drained, acid or alkaline soil. If grown with too much moisture or on a poorly-drained clay, a shallow root system will develop making the tree susceptible to wind damage. The species was once widely grown in the southeastern U.S. but may perform best in the drier parts of the southwest, including west Texas and Oklahoma.

Propagation is by cuttings.

Pests

No pests are of major concern.

Diseases

A stem canker has devastated large numbers of smooth barked Arizona cypress in various parts of the country.

Footnotes

1. This document is ENH382, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Reviewed June 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Agricultural Engineering Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville FL 32611.

Publication #ENH382

Date: 2014-06-16
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  • Michael Andreu