Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Hesperocyparis goveniana


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Esser, Lora L. 1994. Hesperocyparis goveniana. 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 goveniana to Hesperocyparis goveniana; references 33-36 added. ABBREVIATION : HESGOV SYNONYMS : Callitropsis goveniana (Gordon) D.P. Little [36] Cupressus goveniana Gord. [1,5,12,13,35] Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana Gord., Gowen cypress Cupressus goveniana ssp. pygmaea (Lemm.) Bartel, Mendocino or pygmy cypress [5,30] Cupressus pygmaea (Lemmon) Sarg. [18] Neocupressus goveniana (Gordon) de Laub. [34] NRCS PLANT CODE : HEGO3 COMMON NAMES : Gowen cypress TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Gowen cypress is Hesperocyparis goveniana (Gordon) Bartel [25,33]. Mendocino cypress was previously considered a variety of Gowen cypress, but was been given subspecies status by J. Bartel [30] (see Synonyms).LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : Cupressus goveniana subsp. goveniana is Threatened [31]. OTHER STATUS : The California Native Plant Society [22] lists Gowen cypress as a 1B plant: rare in California.


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Gowen cypress is restricted to the Coast Ranges of central and northwestern California [14,22,26]. Gowen cypress (Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana) occurs in only two areas of Monterey County, California: Huckleberry Hill, and between San Jose Creek and Gibson Creek [26]. Mendocino cypress occurs in a narrow, discontinuous strip along the Mendocino County coast known as the "Mendocino White Plains" or "pine barrens" [26,27]. A grove also occurs in Sonoma County [26]. Gowen cypress is cultivated in Hawaii [32]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES20 Douglas-fir FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES27 Redwood FRES28 Western hardwoods FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub STATES : CA HI BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K006 Redwood forest K009 Pine - cypress forest K012 Douglas-fir forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral SAF COVER TYPES : 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 232 Redwood 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 248 Knobcone pine 255 California coast live oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Gowen cypress can occur in dense thickets as well as in open groves. Dense thickets are common in regenerating burns [26]. In Monterey County, Gowen cypress (Cupressus goveniana ssp. goveniana) and bishop pine (P. muricata) form almost impenetrable thickets [16]. In some areas Gowen cypress is associated with closed-cone coniferous woodlands and closed-cone pine-cypress forests [5,24,26]. Mendocino cypress is associated with redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and other north coast coniferous forests in Mendocino County [26]. This subspecies is also a component of the Mendocino pygmy cypress forest, which intergrades with upland redwood and Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis)-grand fir (Abies grandis) forests [6]. Gowen cypress (C. g. ssp. goveniana) is a component of the Monterey pygmy cypress forest, which intergrades with Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) forest on deep soils [6]. Publications naming Gowen cypress as a community dominant are listed below. Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial natural communities of California [6] The vascular plant communities of California [24] The closed-cone pines and cypress [26] Species not previously mentioned but commonly associated with Gowen cypress include Monterey cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa), Mendocino White Plains lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta ssp. bolanderi), shore pine (P. c. ssp. contorta), valley oak (Quercus lobata), Coulter willow (Salix coulteri), Monterey ceanothus (Ceanothus rigidus), glory brush (C. gloriosus var. exaltatus), waveyleaf ceanothus (C. foliosus), sandmat manzanita (Arctostaphylos pumila), Hooker manzanita (A. hookeri), hairy manzanita (A. columbiana), glossyleaf manzanita (A. nummularia), Eastwood manzanita (A. glandulosa), Pacific bayberry (Myrica californica), giant chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), salal (Gaultheria shallon), Eastwood's goldenbush (Enceliopsis fasciculata), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum), Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), coast Labrador tea (Ledum glandulosum var. columbianum), navarretia (Navarretia atractyloides), skunkweed (N. squarrosa), bush monkeyflower (Mimulus aurantiacus), evergreen violet (Viola sempervirens), pink sand verbena (Abronia umbellata), Monterey sedge (Carex montereyensis), California canarygrass (Phalaris californica), and beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) [6,7,16,24,26].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Cypress (Hesperocyparis spp.) wood is generally durable and stable. It is suitable for a wide range of exterior uses including joinery, shingles, and boats. Possible interior uses include moulding and panelling [29]. Cypress shelterbelts provide good firewood. Most cypress species develop a large proportion of heartwood, which splits well, dries quickly, and is clean burning. Cypress wood is moderately fast burning because of its medium density. As cypress woods are prone to sparking, they are recommended only for enclosed fires [29]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Rodents and deer consume cypress seedlings [27]. Cypress are considered undesirable forage for livestock, although young plants are occasionally browsed [27]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : NO-ENTRY OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Grazing and trampling by livestock are detrimental to cypress seedlings. Fire followed by intensive grazing could eliminate a cypress grove [1]. Gowen cypress grows best on the coast. Although waterlogged soils may result in dwarfed trees, Gowen cypress could be safely used for low hedges and windbreaks because of its dense growth habit [26,27]. Gowen cypress seedlings are susceptible to damping-off fungi [26]. Both subspecies are highly susceptible to coryneum canker (Coryneum cardinale), which can kill trees [27]. Fungicides are effective in preventing the spread of the disease but cannot eradicate it once infection has begun [27].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Gowen cypress is a native, evergreen tree. It has a bushy growth form and grows from 16.5 to 23 feet (5-7 m) tall [5,18,27]. Mendocino cypress has a single, slender trunk and sparse crown [18,27]. It grows from 3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m) tall on sterile soils and from 33 to 165 feet (10-50 m) tall on richer soils [5,18,27]. Mature leaves of both subspecies are 0.04 to 0.08 inches (1-2 mm) long, although they can be up to 0.4 inch (10 mm) long on vigorous shoots [27]. Ovulate cones are solitary, up to 0.8 inch (20 mm) long. Staminate cones are 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3-4 mm) long [18,27]. The bark is smooth and fibrous, becoming rougher with age. It can be several centimeters thick [5,27]. The bark of Mendocino cypress occurs in strips, peeling easily after death of the tree, but otherwise intact [27]. Gowen cypress forms a well-defined taproot and numerous laterals the first year [8,27]. The root systems of Gowen cypress are extensive and shallow, less than 1 foot (30 cm) deep [26]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Gowen cypress reproduces exclusively from seed. Mendocino cypress cone production is abundant on dwarfed and mature trees, but is rare or absent on young vigorous trees [27]. Staminate cones are usually first produced when trees are 6 to 7 years old, but have developed on 1- and 2-year-old seedlings of Mendocino cypress and Gowen cypress, respectively [8,27]. Ovulate cones are produced on trees that are 4 years of age or older. The cones require 2 years to mature [1,27], and contain from 90 to 130 seeds [8,27]. The cones of California cypress are closed; they persist on the tree until opened by the heat of a fire or from desiccation due to age [8,26]. Seeds are shed gradually over several months after the cones open [26]. Detached cones will open, but they rarely result in seedling establishment, usually due to lack of a suitable seedbed [1]. Seed dispersal is primarily by wind and rain [26]. Gowen cypress germination rates range from 23 to 53 percent [16]. Seeds require bare mineral soil for germination and establishment. Seedling mortality is high on shaded sites with abundant litter because of damping-off fungi [1,26]. Seedlings are sensitive to excessive moisture [27]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Gowen cypress is confined to poorly drained, acidic, podzolic soils, usually on exposed sites [16,26]. In Mendocino County, these areas are flooded during the winter, forming shallow bogs or ponds [26,27]. Gowen cypress occurs at elevations from 100 to 990 feet (30-300 m). Mendocino cypress occurs at elevations below 1,650 feet (500 m) [26]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Site requirements for cypress seedlings are typical of those for pioneer conifers. Seedlings are shade intolerant and survive best in full sunlight on bare mineral soil [1,26]. According to Armstrong [1], cypress trees of southern California are very sensitive to lack of light, losing their foliage when growing in shade. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Cypress species pollination occurs in late fall and spring [27]. Seeds mature 15 to 18 months after pollination. Ovulate cones remain closed until opened by heat or age [8,27].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Gowen cypress is a fire-adapted, fire-dependent species [13,26]. It has slightly fire-resistant bark and serotinous cones. Its low branching habit makes it susceptible to crown fires [1,26]. The serotinous cones of the California cypress species persist on trees for years [13,28]. Cone opening is erratic and almost negligible except when cones are exposed to extreme heat; then it is rapid and uniform [16,28]. When opened by the heat of a fire, the seeds fall on exposed mineral soil [13,27]. Most seed falls in the first few months following fire [28]. Fires that occur in late summer and fall and are followed by winter rains ensure seed dissemination on bare mineral substrates and moist conditions for germination [26]. Successful cypress reproduction is generally restricted to burned sites [26]. No information was available on fire-free intervals for communities dominated by Gowen cypress. Tecate cypress (Hesperocyparis forbesii), however, a cypress found in southern California, has an average interval between fires of 25 years, ranging from 15 to 63 years [1,26]. Cypress trees of southern California generally reach cone-bearing age before another fire occurs [26]. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tree without adventitious-bud root crown Crown residual colonizer (on-site, initial community) Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most fires probably kill Gowen cypress. Cypress thickets are conducive to crown fires, which kill most trees. Some trees survive when fires are patchy [26]. Large trees could probably survive surface fires. Cones of the California cypress species open as the resin melts and boils. Rapid charring of the thick cone scales extinguishes the flames, leaving seeds unburned [1]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Gowen cypress trees release large quantities of seed after fire [27]. Both subspecies produce dense thickets after fire [26]. The Huckleberry Hill grove of Gowen cypress in Monterey County was reduced from over 100 acres (40 ha) to only a few hectares by a 1901 fire. By 1948, the grove had almost returned to its prefire size [26]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fires occurring too frequently in Gowen cypress groves may destroy them, as reproduction could be eliminated before it has a chance to produce cones. Conversely, fire suppression could threaten the species [1].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis goveniana
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Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 24. Thorne, Robert F. 1976. The vascular plant communities of California. In: Latting, June, ed. Symposium proceedings: plant communities of southern California; 1974 May 4; Fullerton, CA. Special Publication No. 2. Berkeley, CA: California Native Plant Society: 1-31. [3289] 25. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2013. PLANTS Database, [Online]. Available: [34262] 26. Vogl, Richard J.; Armstrong, Wayne P.; White, Keith L.; Cole, Kenneth L. 1977. The closed-cone pines and cypress. In: Barbour, Michael G.; Major, Jack, eds. Terrestrial vegetation of California. New York: John Wiley and Sons: 295-358. [7219] 27. Wolf, Carl B.; Wagener, Willis W. 1948. The New World cypresses. El Aliso Series: Vol. 1. Anaheim, CA: Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. 444 p. [20740] 28. Zedler, Paul H. 1986. Closed-cone conifers of the chaparral. Fremontia. 14(3): 14-17. [18648] 29. Miller, J. T.; Knowles, F. B. 1990. Introduced forest trees in New Zealand: recognition, role and seed source. 9. The cypresses: Cupressus spp. and Chamaecyparis spp. FRI Bulletin 124/9. Christchurch, New Zealand: New Zealand Forest Service. 33 p. [21880] 30. Bartel, Jim A. 1991. Nomenclatural changes in Dudleya (Crassulaceae) and Cupressus (Cupressaceae). Phytologia. 70(4): 229-230. [22637] 31. U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 2013. Endangered Species Program, [Online]. Available: [86564] 32. St. John, Harold. 1973. List and summary of the flowering plants in the Hawaiian islands. Hong Kong: Cathay Press Limited. 519 p. [25354] 33. Baldwin, Bruce G.; Goldman, Douglas H.; Keil, David J.; Patterson, Robert; Rosatti, Thomas J.; Wilken, Dieter H., eds. 2012. The Jepson manual. Vascular plants of California, second edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1568 p. [86254] 34. de Laubenfels, D. J. 2009. Nomenclatural actions for the New World cypresses (Cupressaceae). Novon: A Journal for Botanical Nomenclature. 19(3): 300-306. [87295] 35. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 2013. Flora of North America north of Mexico, [Online]. Flora of North America Association (Producer). Available: [36990] 36. Little, Damon P. 2006. Evolution and circumscription of the true cypresses (Cupressaceae: Cupressus). Systematic Botany. 31(3): 461-480. [87294]

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