Cupressus  pygmaea

Sargent, Botanical Gazetta (Crawfordsville), April 1901, 31, North American Trees, p. 239-240.

     Cupressus pygmaea, n. sp.(Cupressus Goveniana var. pygmaea Lemmon, Handbook West-American Cone-bearers 77. 1895, Cupressus Goveniana Sargent, Silva, N. Am. 10: 107 in part (not Gordon). l896.— The Cupressus of the coast region of Mendocino county, California, can be readily distinguished from the other North American species by its thin black seeds not more than ⅛ in. long which show no tendency to vary to the thick light red seeds of Cupressus Goveniana which are fully ¼ in. in length. This character and the isolation of the region which it inhabits remote from that occupied by other Species make it possible and convenient to separate this northern tree from the Cupressus Goveniana of central and southern California, to which it was doubtfully referred by Englemann in herb. who, like myself when the tenth volume of The Silva of North America was published in 1896, was unacquainted with the seeds. From Cupressus Goveniana the northern tree differs also in its rather stouter branchlets with deeper green never glaucous foliage, usually sessile often oblong cones with less prominent bosses on the scales which vary from six to ten in number, while the cones of Cupressus Goveniana are usually composed of six scales. In a genus like Cupressus where individuals vary greatly within certain limits and good specific characters are so difficult to find, these peculiarities would hardly justify the separation of the northern tree from Cupressus Goveniana were it not for the character found in the seeds which make this the easiest of our species to recognize.
     Cupressus pygmaea inhabits the high barren region on the coast of Mendocino county, extending from Ten Mile run on the north to the Navarro on the south and beginning about three quarters of a mile from the ocean, does not extend inland more than four miles. The soil of these barrens yellow clay covered with deposit of sea sand and a thin layer of peat. On this poor soil the plants begin to bear cones when only a foot or two high, but on the borders of the barrens and of the deep gullies which penetrate them where trees occasionally escape for several years the fires which constantly sweep over the region they grow in better soil to a height of 30 or 40 feet, but from overcrowding rarely develop the spreading branches peculiar to all species of Cupressus growing in abundant space.
     The name pygmaea used by Lemmon to distinguish the dwarf plant stunted by overcrowding and insufficient nourishment is unfortunate as a specific name, for there is no difference between the smallest and the largest plants except in size; and it is probable that individuals of this species on the borders of the barrens, if they could be protected from fire, would in time grow to a large size, for the oldest plants now standing show no signs of maturity and none of them are believed to be much more than fifty years old (C.Purdy in litt.).