McNab Cypress (Cupressus macnabiana)

McNab Cypress sapling  

Other Resources:

  1. Field Notes: Walker Ridge

  2. Field Notes: Magalia

  3. conifers.org treatment

  Conifers of the Pacific Slope thumbnail

Favoring the arid lowlands of the inner Coast Ranges, Sierran foothill woodlands, and chaparral abutting the Central Valley, populations of McNab cypresses are often composed of only a few trees. Like most California cypresses, these find success on poor soils. By favoring open sites, refined adaptations ensure that poor habitat and frequent fire promotes seedling recruitment.

There are as many as 30 groves of McNab cypress in 12 counties (always on serpentine) throughout California (Lanner 1999). McNab cypress sometimes associates with Sargent cypress. When this occurs, McNab is usually shrubbier and growing on the upper slopes (Griffin and Critchfield 1976).

McNab and Sargent cypress are the only California cypresses whose ranges overlap. A good place to see these two together is in the Frenzel Creek Research Natural Area in Colusa County. Cypress identification is difficult and I recommend going into the field with a botanist to assist with the learning process.


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