Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Hesperocyparis sargentii


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Esser, Lora L. 1994. Hesperocyparis sargentii. 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 sargentii to Hesperocyparis sargentii; references 36-39 added. ABBREVIATION : HESSAR SYNONYMS : Callitropsis sargentii (Jeps.) D.P. Little [39] Cupressus sargentii Jeps. (Cupressaceae) [4,11,23,38] Cupressus sargentii var. sargentii Cupressus sargentii var. duttonii Jeps. [23,30] Neocupressus sargentii (Jeps.) de Laub. [37] NRCS PLANT CODE : HESA17 COMMON NAMES : Sargent cypress TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of Sargent cypress is Hesperocyparis sargentii (Jeps.)Bartel (Cupressaceae) [27,36]. Natural hybridization between Sargent cypress and MacNab cypress (Hesperocyparis macnabiana) has been hypothesized, but evidence for it is inconclusive [18,29]. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Sargent cypress occurs only in California and has the widest distribution of all of the coastal California cypress [20]. Numerous scattered groves occur in the Coast Ranges from northern Mendocino County south to Santa Barbara County [5,15,29]. Sargent cypress is cultivated in Hawaii [35]. 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 : K005 Mixed conifer forest K006 Redwood forest K009 Pine - cypress forest K029 California mixed evergreen forest K030 California oakwoods K033 Chaparral SAF COVER TYPES : 229 Pacific Douglas-fir 231 Port-Orford-cedar 232 Redwood 234 Douglas-fir - tanoak - Pacific madrone 244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir 247 Jeffrey pine 248 Knobcone pine 249 Canyon live oak 250 Blue oak - Digger pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Sargent cypress is a component of the northern interior cypress forest. This community is an open, fire-maintained, scrubby forest similar to the knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata) forest. Sargent cypress occurs in widely scattered, isolated groves throughout its range. It occurs in dense thickets as well as in open groves and sparse stands [30]. Dense thickets are common in burned areas [29]. Sargent cypress is associated with serpentine chaparral, and intergrades on less severe sites with upper Sonoran mixed chaparral, montane chaparral, or knobcone pine forest community types. On more mesic sites the northern interior cypress forest intergrades with mixed evergreen forest or montane coniferous forest [12,16]. Sargent cypress is associated with redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)-Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) forest and associated North Coast forests in Mendocino County, California [8,33]. It is commonly associated with chaparral and gray pine (Pinus sabiniana) throughout its range [4,16,29]. In some areas, Sargent cypress is associated with yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa and P. jeffreyi) forests, closed-cone coniferous woodlands, and pine-cedar-cypress pygmy forests [11,26,33]. Sargent cypress occurs sympatrically with MacNab cypress in Lake County, California, where it is larger and tends to occupy lower slopes than MacNab cypress [22,29]. Publications naming Sargent cypress as a community dominant are listed below. California chaparral [10] The closed-cone pines and cypress [29] Preliminary descriptions of the terrestrial natural communities of California [12] Species not previously mentioned but commonly associated with Sargent cypress include sugar pine (Pinus lambertiana), Coulter pine (P. coulteri), bigcone Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga macrocarpa), incense-cedar (Libocedrus decurrens), bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), California scrub oak (Quercus dumosa), leather oak (Q. durata), huckleberry oak (Q. vaccinifolia), musk brush (Ceanothus jepsonii), wedgeleaf ceanothus (C. cuneatus), coyote ceanothus (C. ferrisae), dwarf ceanothus (C. pumilis), bigberry manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca), whiteleaf manzanita (A. viscida), serpentine manzanita (A. obispoensis), Tamalpais manzanita (A. pungens var. montana), hoary manzanita (A. canescens), Mariposa manzanita (A. mariposa), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), interior silktassel (Garrya congdonii), boxleaf silktassel (G. buxifolia), California bay (Umbellaria californica), chaparral yucca (Yucca whipplei), tree poppy (Dendromecon rigida), yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum), California juniper (Juniperus californica), and twistflower (Streptanthus spp.) [4,10,12,16,29].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
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 [34]. Cypress shelterbelts provide good fuel. 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 [34]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Rodents and deer consume cypress seedlings [30]. Cypress are considered undesirable forage for livestock, although young Sargent cypress are grazed by cattle [4]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE : Dense thickets of Sargent cypress provide cover for deer [30]. 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 [1]. Fire followed by intensive grazing could eliminate a cypress grove [5]. Sargent cypress is unsuitable for use in windbreaks or hedges near the coast or in areas that are waterlogged, because waterlogged soils may result in dwarfed trees [29,30]. Seedlings are susceptible to damping-off fungi [29]. Sargent cypress is moderately susceptible to coryneum canker (Coryneum cardinale), which can kill trees. Mistletoe (Phoradendron pauciflorum) often forms dense clusters on bushy Sargent cypress trees in Marin County, California [30]. Sargent cypress is largely restricted to serpentine soils. Using cypress wood to fuel the furnaces used to extract mercury from serpentine soils has reduced California's cypress forests [2].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Sargent cypress is a native, evergreen tree with a slender main trunk. On exposed sites, it assumes a shrubby growth form [4,23]. It normally grows from 33 to 50 feet (10-15 m) tall, but in mesic canyons of northern and central California it can grow up to 75 feet (22.5 m) tall [4,15,23]. Mature leaves are 0.08 inch (2 mm) long, although they can be up to 0.4 inch (10 mm) on vigorous shoots [4,23]. Ovulate cones are solitary, up to 1.0 inch (25 mm) long. Staminate cones are 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3-4 mm) long [11,23]. The bark is furrowed and fibrous, 1.2 inches (3 cm) thick, splitting into longitudinal strands [4,23,30]. A well-defined taproot and numerous laterals are formed the first year [15,30]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Sargent cypress reproduces exclusively from seed. Cone production is abundant. Staminate cones are produced on trees that are 6 to 7 years old [30]. Ovulate cones are produced on trees that are 5 to 6 years of age or older [4,29,30]. The cones require 2 years to mature [4]. They contain about 100 seeds each [4,23]. Cypress cones are closed; they persist on the tree until opened by the heat of a fire or from desiccation due to age [15,29]. Seeds are shed gradually over several months after the cones are opened [29]. Detached cones will open, but they rarely result in seedling establishment, usually due to lack of a suitable seedbed [4]. Seed dispersal is primarily by wind and rain [29]. Cypress seeds require bare mineral soil for germination and establishment. Seedling mortality is high on shaded sites with abundant litter because of damping-off fungi [4,29]. Seedlings are sensitive to excessive moisture [30]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Sargent cypress most often occupies rocky outcrops or formations, usually in serpentine soils [3,4,22,29]. Soils are usually well-drained and less than 1 foot (0.30 m) deep [22]. Sargent cypress is commonly found on dry slopes, exposed hillsides, and ridgetops, but also grows along streambanks, creek bottoms, and lower canyon slopes [22,29]. Sargent cypress occurs at elevations from 660 to 3,300 feet (200-1,000 m) [11,30,31]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : 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 [4,29]. Most chaparral species inhibit the establishment of cypress seedlings on most sites due to competition. However, most chaparral species are less able to compete on serpentine soils where Sargent cypress is often found. Sargent cypress is favored over nonserpentine-adapted chaparral species on these sites [4]. On Red Mountain in Mendocino County, California, there exists a pine-cypress climax community on serpentine soil. An abrupt boundary with more typical Douglas-fir-hardwood forest exists on adjacent soils derived from sedimentary rock. It is hypothesized that the climax vegetation would be different on these adjacent sites if the parent material was derived from peridotite instead of sedimentary rock [33]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Cypress pollination occurs in late fall and spring [30]. Seeds mature 15 to 18 months after pollination. Ovulate cones remain closed until opened by heat or age [15,30].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Sargent cypress is a fire-adapted, fire-dependent species [20,29]. It has slightly fire-resistant bark and serotinous cones, although its low branching habit makes it susceptible to crown fires [1,4,30]. Successful cypress (Hesperocyparis spp.) reproduction is generally restricted to burned sites [29]. The serotinous cones persist on the trees for years [1,32]. Some Sargent cypress cones have remained closed on trees for over 8 years [29]. Cone opening is erratic, slow, and almost negligible except when cones are exposed to extreme heat; then it is rapid and uniform [22,32]. When opened by the heat of a fire, the seeds fall on exposed mineral soil [19,30]. Most seed falls in the first few months following fire [32]. 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 [29]. No information was available on fire-free intervals for communities dominated by Sargent 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 [4]. In southern California, Sargent cypress trees generally reach cone-bearing age before another fire occurs [29,30]. 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 sargentii
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Most severe fires probably kill Sargent cypress. Cypress thickets are conducive to crown fires, which usually kill most trees in the burned area, although fire may be patchy [29]. At the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in southern California on October 8, 1943, a severe fire killed all Sargent cypress trees [30]. Some large trees could probably survive surface fires; however, most large trees in burned areas are located on bare or rocky sites that may have been left unburned [29]. Cones of the California cypress open as the resin melts and boils. Rapid charring of the thick cone scales extinguishes the flames, leaving seeds unburned [4]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Sargent cypress release large quantities of seed after fire [30]. In Lake County, it occurs on recently burned areas with MacNab cypress [22]. Sargent cypress commonly forms thickets of dwarfed trees following chaparral fires [22,30]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fires occurring too frequently in Sargent cypress groves may destroy them, as reproduction could be eliminated before it had a chance to produce cones. Conversely, fire suppression could threaten the species [4,5].


SPECIES: Hesperocyparis sargentii
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Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. 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] 26. 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] 27. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 2013. PLANTS Database, [Online]. Available: [34262] 28. Vogl, Richard J. 1967. Fire adaptations of some southern California plants. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1967 November 9-10; Hoberg, California. No. 7. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 79-109. [6268] 29. Vogl, Richard J.; Armstrong, Wayne P.; White, Keith L.; Cole, Kenneth L. 1977. 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