A tree that enjoys full sunshine in well-irrigated earth and should be hydrated periodically -- at least until reaching maturity -- the Italian cypress boasts a rich history and cultural heritage dating to the times of the ancient Greeks and Romans. This evergreen tree is regularly used today as a garden specimen.
The growth rate of the Italian cypress is considered to be moderate, which, according to the Arbor Day Foundation, denotes a tree that grows between 13 and 24 inches annually. This tree is noted for its unique growth pattern, which includes a strictly erect stance, shooting upward with a total width of about 3 feet. Skinny in its appearance, the Italian cypress bears a resemblance to a tall, green telephone pole.
It typically grows to a height of 40 to 60 feet, although it may be shorter in some geographic locations. Because of its lack of width, the Italian cypress is often planted closely together -- usually spaced three feet apart -- with other Italian cypresses to form a screen, barrier or sort of tall hedge. Because of its tall stature, the tree is not frequently used in residential settings, but it serves a distinct purpose in a landscaping environment.
Possessing dark green foliage with scalelike leaves less than 2 inches long, the growth of Italian cypress is accentuated in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 7b through 11, a swath of the country that is dominated by the warm temperatures of the South and the coasts of the Pacific and Atlantic. A member of the Cupressaceae family, it grows into a symmetrical, bluish-green, pyramidal crown and bears a small, oval berry as a fruit.
An evergreen tree, the Italian cypress is especially long-lived with a potential life span of 2,000 years. Native to the Mediterranean regions of Greece, Cypress and Italy, this specimen was frequently used by ancient Greeks and Romans in ornamental gardens, a practice that continues today across the world. The Greeks also prized the wood of the Italian cypress and used it to construct sculptures of Greek gods. It is also commonly referred to as a pencil tree.
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