Cupressus cashmeriana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Cupressaceae

Scientific Name: Cupressus cashmeriana Royle ex Carrière
Common Name(s):
English Bhutan Cypress, Weeping Cypress
Cupressus tortulosa Griff.
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: The taxonomy and nomenclature of this species have been confused from the outset. In 1855 Carrière described two new cypresses with slender, lax foliage based on young plants cultivated in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris. Having received these plants from another horticulturist without sufficient evidence of provenance, his statements about origin were speculative. No original material survives, but of the several competing names originally available for the Weeping Cypress of Bhutan (C. pendula Griff. 1848 unfortunately being a later homonym of C. pendula Thunb. 1783 and C. tortulosa Griff. now proposed for official rejection for being obscure as well as ambiguous in its original spelling), C. cashmeriana Carrière could be traced back to 19th century cultivated plants in Kew that may have the same origin as Carrière's plant (Farjon, 1994). This material is also conspecific with Griffith's collections of C. pendula Griff. and a neotype was therefore selected from it. Cupressus corneyana Carrière remains incertae sedis and its usage in Flora of Bhutan (Grierson and Long, 1983) is incorrect. There are apparently very glaucous, less glaucous, and non-glaucous forms with long, pendulous or shorter, more drooping foliage branches: these are consciously or unconsciously selected plants and their mostly clonal offspring. Trees growing in the wild in Bhutan have greener, less pendulous foliage, and C. pendula Griff. and C. cashmeriana Carrière as originally seen and described by these authors are probably planted selections (cultivars).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-12-13
Assessor(s): Zhang, D & Christian, T.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
The area of occupancy is much less than 500 km2 and contains a severely fragmented population. There are probably 19 locations. Recent decline is suspected to have occurred but its extent is uncertain. Although this species does not meet the criteria for EN or for VU, it is close to the threshold and is therefore assessed as Near Threatened. 
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is indigenous to Bhutan and NE India (Arunachal Pradesh); it is planted widely in the region near Buddhist monasteries and temples in E Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Xizang [Tibet], and Arunachal Pradesh.
Countries occurrence:
Bhutan; India (Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim - Introduced)
China (Tibet [or Xizang]); Nepal
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:171
Number of Locations:19
Lower elevation limit (metres):1250
Upper elevation limit (metres):2670
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Populations do not appear to be large.
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A very large emergent in evergreen angiosperm forest dominated by Quercus, with lauraceous trees in the understorey; also with Tsuga dumosa near the upper limit, and on rocky (limestone) cliffs in pure stands. There are two possible strategies involved: late successional stands depend on episodal disturbance for regeneration, and extra-zonal avoidance of competition on exposed cliffs. The altitudinal range is from 1,250m to 2,670 m a.s.l. The climate in optimal stands is strongly influenced by summer monsoon rains, with ca. 800-2,000 mm annual precipitation.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The uses of this tree are ornamental, religious, possibly medicinal; timber harvesting may now have ceased largely due to scarcity and inaccessibility of remaining wild populations. This species is commonly planted in Buddhist monasteries and temple grounds in Bhutan (from where it was first described by William Griffith), NE India, Sikkim, and near Darjiling. It is surely the most ornamental of the true cypresses and the monks undoubtedly are responsible for unnamed cultivars with especially drooping branches and glaucous foliage known to Europeans prior to their discovery of populations in the wild, which show a mixture of these and other characters. Some of these forms are quite hardy, others only survive in areas with mild, virtually frost-free winters such as in southern Europe. Probably the most famous tree in Europe is a very broadly crowned, multi-stemmed specimen on the Isola Madre in Lake Maggiore, northern Italy, now sadly in a poor state after a storm.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The scarcity of localities where this species appears to grow naturally, with often few large trees present (Prof. H. Ern of Berlin, pers. comm.), as well as the general desirability of cupressaceous wood in E Asia in connection with religious and other traditional buildings, indicate a serious vulnerability of the remaining wild populations. However, its natural distribution has only recently been evaluated and there is no clear evidence of serious decline over the past three generations.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Protection largely takes the form of ex situ conservation by planting of individual trees in villages and near monasteries and temples.

Citation: Zhang, D & Christian, T. 2013. Cupressus cashmeriana. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T32311A2813777. . Downloaded on 26 May 2018.
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