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Fitzroya cupressoides Cupressaceae
 
Fitzroya cupressoides 'Patagonian Cypress' Cupressaceae at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Fitzroya cupressoides by Mona Bourell

Fitzroya cupressoides at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Fitzroya cupressoides at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor Fitzroya cupressoides at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor Fitzroya cupressoides at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Joanne Taylor
 

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Patagonian cypress, called alerce (Spanish for "larch") in Chile, rivals California's bristlecone pine for longevity and size, some living more than 3000 years. The temperate, coastal forests of southern Chile, the Chiloé Archipelago and Patagonia, are its home, where it gets ample moisture from Pacific storms. "Its remarkable history is a story of contradiction. Says Claire Williams in Forest History Today: "Fitzroya cupressoides is a millennial survivor of large-scale disturbances: glaciers, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes. Its gradual decline is recent, beginning before the arrival of early humans, and then accelerating with agricultural clearing and logging." Beginning in the 16th century when Spain conquered South America, vast areas of Patagonian cypresses were cut for export to Peru and Europe, used in copper smelting furnaces, or cleared for agriculture. The establishment of National Parks within the last fifty years in both countries has preserved 15% of the remaining stands, although poaching and stripping of bark is still a serious problem in Chile. These conical 150-foot trees, some 10 to 16 feet across, greatly impressed Charles Darwin who named it Fitzroya after the captain of The Beagle, Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, when Darwin went ashore at Valdivia, Chile in 1835.

Called the redwood of the Southern Hemisphere, the bark is soft and peels off in strips. The wood was highly prized for its elasticity and lightness and used for shingles, construction, masts, and tools. Its mature leaves are scale-like, flattened, with lines of white stomata along the upper scale surface. It is dioecious, with male and female cones on separate trees. The cones are woody and small and ripen the first year. The seeds are winged and variable. Though the tree grows intemperate rainforests, it is thought that its regeneration could be dependent on catastrophic fires, for there were many fires in the Fitzroya forests set by humans or lightning over hundreds of years and the tree's populations increased. Fitzroya appears to thrive in volcanic, poorly-drained, ashy soil. Our Patagonian cypress in the Bed 54D is a shrubby, 5 foot high youngster, and it needs a few hundred years of growth to show off its lineage.

Douglas Tompkins (1943-2015), conservationist and founder of the sporting goods brand The North Face, and California billionaire, moved to Chile and became a tireless supporter of protecting its forests. In the 1990s, he bought over two million acres of wilderness in Chile and Argentina, includingmany acres of old growth alerce forests, to save them from destruction. The land located near Puerto Montt bisected Chile from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes, and his attempts to donate it to the government caused suspicion and controversy. Ultimately, Chile accepted the gift in 1997 and named it the Conservation Land Trust.

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS: Text by Kathy McNeil. Photos by Joanne Taylor, Mona Bourell.

Location

Fitzroya cupressoides, Patagonian Cypress, Cupressaceae can be found in BED 54D
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Map (Bed Numbers) >>

Profile

Scientific Name Fitzroya cupressoides
Common Names Patagonian cypress, alerce
Family Cupressaceae
Plant Type Conical tree or spreading shrub. In cultivation it may grow to
Fmar50 ft x 20 ft.
Environment Prefers mild, damp, maritime climate, but will grow in full sun; moist well-drained soil; heavy clay and acidic soils; hardy to -4°F but needs shelter from strong winds.
Bloom Produces cones, not flowers. The female cones are round in shape and ripen within a year.
Uses Specimen tree or shrub. Although quite hardy, in cultivation it is more often seen as a shrub. Occasionally specimens may reach 40 feet or more.
More Info Not only is this the tallest tree in South America, in its native habitat this is a very long-lived, slow growing tree with records of it living to more than 3,600 years.
 
 
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Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

January

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

February

Fitzroya cupressoides

Fitzroya cupressoides

January

Polyspora longicarpa

Polyspora longicarpa

February

Polyspora longicarpa

Magnolia laevifolia

March

Cantua buxifolia

Cantua buxifolia

April

Papaver rhoeas

Papaver rhoeas

May

Strelitzia reginae

Strelitzia reginae

June

Cestrum elegans

Cestrum elegans

July

Dichroa febrifuga

Dichroa febrifuga

August

Dichroa febrifuga

Sequoia sempervirens

September

Cestrum elegans

Salvia confertifolia

October

Cestrum elegans

Nerine bowdenii

November

Cestrum elegans

Protea lepidocarpodendron

December

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa

February

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

March

Vireya Rhododendrons

Vireya Rhododendrons

April

Leucospermum spp.

Leucospermum spp.

May

Senna multiglandulosa

Senna multiglandulosa

June

Tagetes lemmonii

Tagetes lemmonii

July

Eucomis spp.

Eucomis spp.

August

Cuphea spp.

Cuphea spp.

September

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

October

Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Saurauia Madrensis

November

Pinus pseudostrobus

Pinus pseudostrobus

December

Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

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