Oriental Swamp Cypresses

Also called the water pine, the Oriental swamp cypress (Gylptostrobus pensilis) is the sole member of its genus. Native to China and neighboring portions of Vietnam, the trees show many similarities to their close relatives, the bald cypresses (Taxodium spp.). Like bald cypresses, Oriental swamp cypresses commonly grow in low-lying, damp areas. They often grow…



China-firs (Cunninghamia ssp.) are impressive trees, attaining heights of 150 feet in their native lands. Although they are native to Asia, they have been planted in the Unites States since the beginning of the 19th century. Fortunately, they do not exhibit invasive habits, so you can plant them in your yard without feeling guilty. Taxonomic…


False Cypresses

The false cypresses (Chamaecyparis spp.) are a group of beautiful, evergreen trees native to portions of North America and Asia. Perhaps unfairly tarnished by the “false” moniker, it is important to understand botanists do not intend the common name as a pejorative; they simply use it to distinguish between two common lineages. False cypresses are…


Sugi Trees

Known in its native Japan as Sugi, Cryptomeria japonica is a beautiful, evergreen conifer that is the sole member of its genus. It also goes by the names Japanese or oriental cedar, although this conifer is not that closely related to the true cedars (Cedrus spp.). Sugi have been cultivated in China for centuries, and…


Kauri Conifers (Agathis spp.)

Kauri trees are a group of about 21 species that form the genus Agathis. Native to the South Pacific region, various representatives of the genus occur in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Philippines and New Guinea. The biodiversity of the genus reaches its peak on the island of Borneo, where up to five species may occur…


Tasmanian Cedars (Athrotaxis spp.)

Tasmanian cedars are attractive conifers, native to the temperate rainforests of west Tasmania. Even though these trees originate on the opposite side of the planet and inhabit very different ecosystems, they resemble a few North American natives. The Family Tree Although Athrotaxis species often bear common names including terms like “pine” or “cedar,” they are…


Monkey-Puzzle Trees (Araucaria araucana)

Monkey-puzzle trees are unusual-looking and long-lived conifers, with lifespans exceeding 1,000 years in some cases. With ancestors dating back to the Jurassic Period, it is easy to imagine long-necked dinosaurs munching happily on the tree’s strange foliage and large seeds. The species draws its common name from an offhand quote uttered by an owner of…


Cypress-Pines (Callitris spp.)

Cypress-pines are small- to medium-sized trees, although a few species reach heights in excess of 100 feet. Although they resemble junipers (Juniperus spp.) in general appearance and by virtue of possessing two different types of leaves, cypress-pines bear both needle-like and scaly leaves throughout their lives. Name and Classification The genus name of cypress-pines comes…


Low Impact Development at the Landowner Level

Urban runoff is the largest cause of ocean pollution in southern California. Our many roads and sidewalks whisk the polluted water from our highways and byways right into the ocean, via a network of storm water drains. These pollutants include not only the oils, phosphates and plastics littering local streets, but also the pesticides, herbicides…