The cypress is a conelike tree with a short stem below its branches. Its fragrant, reddish-brown wood is hard and durable. This species rarely exceeds 60 feet high, but the tree has a lofty history. In ancient times, the cypress tree was a symbol of physical death and spiritual immortality. Supposedly used as wood for the Ark and ancient mummy cases, this tree has been held in high esteem. The red cypress tree shares the cypress family characteristics and has many varieties, such as the Cripps Golden, Golden Leyland, Golden Vietnamese and Stewart Golden.
The Cripps Golden (Crippsii) grows approximately 30 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Its pyramid shape supports yellow foliage in the young tree, turning dark green as it ages. Landscapers use the tree in oriental gardens to delineate a line or pattern. This cypress variety tolerates deer, rabbits and salt air. It can bear small amounts of sand and clay in normal to moist soil. This class has another form, called the Crippsii obtusa, that grows wider and taller. Its irregular shape spreads with dark, glossy green foliage.
The Golden Leyland is a tolerant, fast-growing, narrow evergreen with pale golden foliage. It thrives in cold and windy conditions, which makes it useful for coastal planting. The tree rises to a maximum height of 50 feet and serves well as a screen or a hedge. It tolerates salt air and most soil conditions, including chalk.
The Golden Vietnamese Cypress is an extremely rare species, found only on ridges in high elevations. These trees grow within a single mountainous region of Vietnam in extremely remote locations. Discovered in 1999, it was the first new evergreen species to be uncovered since 1994. Its durable timber and pleasant scent make this tree attractive for firewood and construction. Because it is slow-growing and in demand, it is on the critically-endangered list.
The Stewart Golden Cypress is an upright, slender tree with a pyramid-like shape.This low-maintenance species has a fragrant bark and is suitable as a yard accent or hedging. The tree grows to 30 feet high and to a width of 10 to12 feet. This cypress tree is popular in parks and public playgrounds. Newer growth is yellow, while older growth is dark green in color. This spreading tree tolerates partial shade and requires moist soil and room to grow.