“Dancing on the Brink of the World”: A Photo Blog Series Showcasing the Global Diversity of Plantings of the Monterey Cypress

VOLUME III: SPECIMEN

By Cypress Lawn Arboretum Director Josh Gevertz

Hesperocyparis macrocarpa, in its wisened maturity past a century in age, may grow to become a true natural spectacle, a wooden behemoth that lives at a physical and temporal scale far beyond the human. To us, they exist as timeless stalwarts; still and silent they stand as specimens.

Today, Monterey cypress trees live and thrive on every continent across the planet except for Antarctica. In places near and far, centurial specimens of this singular horticultural nomad grow tall, stretching skyward and ever branching out. The global diaspora of the Monterey cypress may be traced back to its roots (or seeds?) with the original holotype collection by German botanist Karl Theodor Hartweg, on an expedition to the Monterey peninsula in the year 1846. Hartweg was surveying the California coast and making collections of its native plants, on a mission for the London Royal Horticultural Society and their experimental Kew Gardens. His journey included a visit to the Monterey peninsula and the ancient, wondrous groves of Hesperocyparis macrocarpa in the place we now call Point Lobos. Without his singular act of seed gathering, none of the international specimen trees shown below would ever have come to live where they are today found.

The following photographs seek to showcase the specimen Monterey cypress trees I have witnessed in botanical gardens, arboreta, and other park settings, both internationally and here locally in the Bay Area, including our very own specimen trees at Cypress Lawn Arboretum.  Additionally, personal photographs of herbarium specimens from the world-renowned Kew Herbarium collection, in particular the original Hartweg holotype, are included.

 

INTERNATIONAL

KEW HERBARIUM – LONDON – UNITED KINGDOM

(TOP LEFT: HERBARIUM SPECIMEN SHEET, CYPRESS SEEDLINGS;

TOP RIGHT: ORIGINAL HOLOTYPE COLLECTED BY K.T. HARTWEG, 1846;

BELOW: CONE COLLECTIONS, MONTEREY CYPRESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD)

FITZROY GARDENS – MELBOURNE – AUSTRALIA

(LEFT: BURL AT BASE OF SPECIMEN CYPRESS TRUNK;

RIGHT: EPIPHYTIC FICUS GROWING OUT OF SPECIMEN CYPRESS TRUNK)

ISEL PARK – NELSON – NEW ZEALAND

CORNWALL PARK – AUCKLAND – NEW ZEALAND

CHRISTCHURCH BOTANIC GARDENS – CHRISTCHURCH – NEW ZEALAND

 

LOCAL

SAN FRANCISCO BOTANICAL GARDEN

CYPRESS LAWN ARBORETUM