Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Hesperocyparis arizonica


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1993. Hesperocyparis arizonica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. Revisions: 17 October 2013: Scientific name changed from Cupressus arizonica to Hesperocyparis arizonica; references 73-76 added. ABBREVIATION : HESARI SYNONYMS : Cupressus arizonica Greene [33,75] Cupressus arizonica Greene subsp. arizonica Cupressus arizonica var. bonita Lemm. Cupressus arizonica var. glabra [33] Callitropsis arizonica (Greene) D.P. Little [76] Neocupressus arizonica (Greene) de Laub. [74] NRCS PLANT CODE : HEAR22 COMMON NAMES : Arizona cypress Arizona rough cypress rough-bark cypress smooth-bark cypress cedro cedro blanco cedro de la Sierra pinobete TAXONOMY : The accepted scientific name for Arizona cypress is Hesperocyparis arizonica (Greene) Bartel (Cupressaceae) [61,73]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : None [62] OTHER STATUS : Information on state- and province-level protection status of plants in the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe.


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Arizona cypress has a restricted range in the southwestern United States. The typical variety is local in mountain canyons from Trans-Pecos Texas (Chisos Mountains) to southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona. Arizona cypress is best developed in Mexico, from northeastern Sonora south to Durango and east to Coahuila, Zacatecas, and Tamaulipas [31,33]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [72]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper STATES : AZ CA HI NM TX MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 7 Lower Basin and Range 12 Colorado Plateau 13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K019 Arizona pine forest K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K031 Oak - juniper woodlands K033 Chaparral SAF COVER TYPES : 235 Cottonwood - willow 239 Pinyon - juniper 240 Arizona cypress 241 Western live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Arizona cypress is a common but scattered component of canyon riparian associations [7,14]. These interior, mixed-broadleaf communities comprise a variety of typical riparian species that include Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), cottonwoods (Populus fremontii, P. angustifolia), box elder (Acer negundo), Arizona alder (Alnus oblongifolia), bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), and Arizona walnut (Juglans major) [7,55,67]. Carmichael and others [70] have described an Arizona cypress-shrub live oak (Quercus turbinella) association. Arizona cypress is also a frequent codominant with alligator juniper (Juniperus deppeana), pinyons (Pinus cembroides and P. edulis), and a number of oaks including silverleaf oak (Q. hypoleucoides), netleaf oak (Q. reticulata), and Arizona white oak (Q. arizonica) [46]. In Cochise County, Arizona, Arizona cypress is co- or subdominant in oak woodlands that include Emory oak (Quercus emoryi), Mexican blue oak (Q. oblongifolia), Toumey oak (Q. toumeyi), oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma), and Arizona madrone (Arbutus arizonica), in addition to the aforementioned oaks and junipers [10]. Arizona cypress is progressively more restricted to riparian habitats at lower elevations where the woodland zone grades into the shrub-dominated desert and semidesert vegetation types [46]. Arizona cypress is also found in stands at higher elevations, mixed with other conifers including Arizona pine (Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica), Apache pine (P. engelmannii), Chihuahua pine (P. leiophylla var. chihuahuana), and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) [46]. In pure stands, Arizona cypress often forms closed canopies that preclude the occurrence of understory species over considerable portions of the stand [7,14]. Shrub associates along canyon bottoms and lower slopes include skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata), mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.), New Mexico locust (Robinia neomexicana), cliff fendlerbush (Fendlera rupicola), indigobush (Dalea formosa), mountainbalm (Eriodictyon angustifolium), and buckthorn (Rhamnus spp.). On drier sites, understory species include sugar sumac (Rhus ovata), desert ceanothus (Ceanothus greggii), pringle manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei), and pointleaf manzanita (A. pungens) [7,14]. Publications listing Arizona cypress or its varieties as dominant or codominant include the following: A digitized computer-compatible classification for natural and potential vegetation in the Southwest with particular reference to Arizona [6] Plants of the Arizona chaparral [25] Preliminary classification for the coniferous forest and woodland series of Arizona and New Mexico [29] Biotic communities in the Sub-Mogollon region of the inland Southwest [36] Forest and woodland vegetation monitoring, Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park: baseline 1978 [38] A series vegetation classification for Region 3 [40] Vegetation of the Santa Catalina Mountains: community types and dynamics[44] Riparian forest and community types of Arizona and New Mexico [54] Vegetation of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona: a gradient analysis of the south slope [67]


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of Arizona cypress is light, moderately soft, close-grained, and has a specific gravity of 0.48. The wood is durable when seasoned properly [64]. It is suitable for sashes, doors, and blinds [24]. There are not enough large, accessible populations of Arizona cypress to make it commercially important, though it is sometimes cut locally for rough construction and fenceposts [24]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Rodents consume cypress seeds [1]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Arizona cypress is sometimes planted on disturbed sites for erosion control [64]. Direct seeding is slightly better than transplanting for successful establishment. Arizona cypress's ability to stabilize soil and adapt to disturbed areas is rated as moderate; it is suitable for either acidic or alkaline soils [48]. Everett and others [13] reported that Arizona cypress had low survival (40 percent) when planted for revegetation of mine spoils in central California, where frost heaving was a problem. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Arizona cypress is valued as an ornamental. It is also planted for windbreaks [64] and is cultivated for Christmas trees [22]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : The limited distribution of Arizona cypress varieties in the United States has raised concerns about the risk of its extinction [68]. Posey and Goggans [49] reported that they observed little Arizona cypress reproduction anywhere in the Southwest (no specific data, however) and were concerned that a low reproductive rate may threaten the existence of the species. Natural stands of Arizona cypress in Texas occur only in Big Bend National Park and are therefore protected from logging and most other disturbances. Groves in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico all occur on public lands; some are in National Monuments where they are protected [32]. Wolf [68] suggested that it is feasible to set all areas occupied by Arizona cypress varieties aside as reserves, eliminate excessive cutting and grazing, and protect the stands from fire. Arizona cypress is easily cultivated, which could help protect it against extinction by fire or other disturbance [32]. It can be propagated by cuttings or veneer grafting [64]. Seedlings are susceptible to damping-off fungi [22]. Arizona cypress may be infected by Phoradendron juniperinum ssp. juniperum. Cypress canker attacks most species of cypress [22].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Arizona cypress is a native, evergreen tree. In Arizona, it usually grows 40 to 50 feet (12-15 m) tall but may be as tall as 90 feet (27 m). Arizona cypress has a diameter of to 2 to 3 feet (0.6-0.9 m) with a maximum of 5.5 feet (1.6 m) [24]. In Texas, Arizona cypress usually is less than 33 feet (10 m) tall but may reach 82 feet (25 m) in height, and is usually 20 inches (50 cm) or less in diameter [9]. The short, stout horizontal branches form a dense, conical or narrowly pyramidal crown, which may sometimes be broad and flat [64]. The trunk either branches near the ground or is well developed and branch-free for some length [24]. The largest trees are seldom more than 700 years old [64]. Two stands examined for age structure in southeastern Arizona had individuals ranging in age from approximately 25 to 178.1 years and from 197.6 to 456.7 years [46]. The leaves are all small and scalelike. The ovulate cones are globose, with woody, separating scales [24]. In young trees, the bark breaks into thin, large, irregular scales. On older trunks and branches the bark is longitudinally furrowed, fibrous, and shreddy [24,64]. The bark is smooth and exfoliating [42]. A well-defined taproot and numerous lateral roots are formed the first year [22]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Arizona cypress reproduces exclusively from seed. Mature cones have been observed on 14-year-old individuals, indicating that sexual maturity occurred sometime previous [66]. Ovulate cones are usually abundant each year and contain from 48 to 112 seeds each [64]. The cones are closed; they persist on the tree until opened by the heat of a fire or desiccation due to age [22,65]. Seeds are shed gradually over several months after the cones are opened by heat [66]. Detached cones will open, but they rarely result in seedling establishment, usually due to the lack of a suitable seedbed [1]. Seeds do not appear to have innate dormancy; they remain viable for a number of years in unopened cones and germinate when moistened [64]. Arizona cypress requires bare mineral soil for germination and seedling establishment, which gives it a competitive advantage over the dominant plants of adjacent communities. The presence of a litter layer reduces germination; 10 percent of seeds germinated on bare mineral soil, but only 3.7 percent germinated on litter-covered substrate [5,46]. Seedlings are sensitive to excessive moisture [68]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Arizona cypress occurs in the southwestern United States where the mean annual precipitation is approximately 16 to 24 inches (400-600 mm). Precipitation is bimodally distributed; relatively wet in summer and winter, and dry in the spring and fall [7]. Arizona cypress grows in dry, well-drained soils on cool sites [5,64]. Arizona cypress is usually characterized as a moisture-demanding species of riparian habitats [6,68]. However, recent findings show that Arizona cypress can occupy relatively xeric sites, including south-facing slopes, ridge tops, and convex slopes at higher elevations (around 6,600 feet [2,000 m]). Arizona cypress occurs in relatively pure, dense groves of smaller trees on most canyon side slopes and is relatively less important and represented by fewer, larger individuals in riparian stands [47]. The Arizona cypress-shrub live oak association is found on wet, north slopes and generally occurs on the upper portions of slopes, on soils derived from slate, schist, limestone, and granite parent materials [7]. Arizona cypress is generally found at elevations from 3,000 to 8,000 feet (900-2,400 m) on gravelly slopes or cuts with northern exposure [64]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative seral species The successional status of Arizona cypress is unclear. Arizona cypress communities are considered a topo-edaphic climax in southeastern and central Arizona [14,29]. However, cypress seedlings are shade intolerant and survive best in full sunlight on bare mineral soils [66]. Parker [46] studied the age structure of a number of Arizona cypress communities and concluded that Arizona cypress is an intolerant species that requires disturbance to expose mineral soils for seedling establishment. He designated Arizona cypress a "pseudoclimax" species. The term "pseudoclimax" indicates that stands appear to be climax but are eventually replaced by more tolerant species. Arizona cypress continues to establish on disturbed sites for 50 to 100 years, thus establishing an apparently climax population with a number of age classes. Recent studies, however, indicate a paucity of seedlings under these stands, which would indicate that the stands are susceptible to replacement by other species [12,46,47,49,54]. Alternatively, the lack of regeneration in these stands can be interepreted as resulting from fire exclusion and the absence of suitable sites for regeneration; Arizona cypress may therefore be considered a fire climax. Parker [46] pointed out that Arizona cypress seedlings established on sites that had been disturbed by logging. Moir [39] reported good regeneration in Texas, where there had been fire as recently as 1944, and he estimated that recruitment is approximately equal to mortality in an Arizona cypress/Chisos bluegrass (Poa involuta) habitat type and in Arizona cypress/bigtooth maple habitats as well. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Both the pistillate and staminate cones of Arizona cypress emerge in spring [64]. Pollen is shed in October and November by Arizona cypress in Placerville, California (cultivated outside its native range) [22]. Ovulate cones remain closed until opened by heat or age [68].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Arizona cypress is the least fire-tolerant of all trees and shrubs in the Arizona chaparral zone [69]. The serotinous cones of Arizona cypress persist on the tree for years. When opened by the heat of a fire, the seeds fall on the exposed mineral soil, producing thickets of seedlings [68]. Fire history: Fire regimes in Arizona cypress communities vary greatly in frequency and severity, and are difficult to determine dendrochronologically because Arizona cypress tends to produce false annual rings. In Arizona chaparral habitats adjacent to Arizona cypress stands, both wildfires and prescribed fires are frequent [11]. Swetnam and others [57] determined that the fire history of Chirichua National Monument for the past 300 years consisted of large surface fires that burned most or all of Rhyolite canyon at 9- to 22-year intervals. This canyon consists of mixed conifer forests and oak woodlands. Relict conifer forests dominated by Arizona cypress occur on canyon bottoms at low to middle elevations [52]. The community in Rhyolite Canyon was comparatively isolated from fires occurring in the surrounding community types [43]. In this area, the fire season occurs in late spring and early summer, during the hot, dry weather that occurs before the summer rains [57]. Marshall [37] noted a difference in physiognomy between the pine-oak woodlands in Mexico, where fires are not suppressed, and those in the United States, where fire suppression is sophisticated and efficient. He described open woodlands with grassy understories in Mexico; in the United States, comparable woodlands are stunted, with heavy fuel accumulations and little grass. Fires that do occur in these woodlands tend to be severe and kill most of the understory and overstory plants. A well-developed population of Arizona cypress occurs in Boot Canyon, in the Chisos Mountains of Texas (Big Bend National Park). The fire history here was also difficult to determine. Moir [39] estimated that there had been at least 10 fires between 1770 and 1940, at intervals from 9 to 60 or more years. He suspected that he had substantially underestimated the number of fires, and that many of the fires were low-intensity surface fires that left no scar records. The southern California populations occur in areas that have more frequent fires and have more prolonged summer drought [65]. Such frequent fires as occur in chaparral could destroy cypress groves completely by eliminating young trees before they reached cone-producing age. In this area, the majority of cypress fires occur in the fall [1]. Strong winds and low humidities commonly accompany or follow these fires [26]. This ensures maximum cone opening; ejection of seeds from the suspended, opened cones; and widespread dispersal [65]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Low-intensity surface fires are lethal to Arizona cypress with stem diameters less than 4 inches (10 cm) [47]. Larger trees are also not very resistant to fire [66]. A simulated exposure of cones to canopy fire conditions reduced germination success but did not kill all seeds. Cones open as the resin melts and boils. Rapid charring of the thick cone scales extinguishes the flames, leaving seeds unburned (Armstrong in [66]). Surface fires kill all seeds in cones on the forest floor [46]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : Historically, fires in Arizona cypress groves were patchy, resulting in a mosaic of different-aged stands of uniform height and density [1]. Patchy surface fires would probably leave some seedling and sapling stands untouched, and thus able to survive to fire-resistent heights [39]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Arizona cypress likely establishes from seed after fire. A small grove of Arizona cypress was reduced from three trees to one by a September wildfire. However, 40 seedlings were produced the following year, and the total acreage occupied by Arizona cypress was unchanged [21]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fire plays a necessary but delicately balanced role in cypress life history. Too frequent fires can destroy a grove, but elimination of fire may lead to its extinction [1]. Moir [40] has suggested that low-intensity surface fires at up to 50- to 60-year intervals will help keep Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides) thickets from developing and excluding Arizona cypress. A fire-return interval of more 80 years will allow fuel build-up and produce a shift in dominance patterns from those species that are maintained by recurrent fire. Arizona cypress was used to sample for live fuel moisture values, and can can be used as an indicator of fire behavior [53]. The moisture content (measured as the weight of water to the total dry weight) for Arizona cypress sampled in November ranged from 84 to 123 percent and averaged 96 percent. This is considered relatively dry and was the lowest of sample species. The author concluded that the potential for crowning is great in Arizona cypress, especially when the dry branches are low in the crown. Arizona cypress does tend to have a "ladder-fuel" branching habit, with many branches hanging low to the ground [53]. In the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National Park, Texas, downed woody fuels totalled 15.44 tons per acre (34.7 T/ha), with a litter layer continuous enough to carry fire [12].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis arizonica
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