Forest 40 - Moroccan Cypress, Tarout


Cupressus dupreziana: 2 varieties planted in Forest 40

Cones on Saharan cypress tree in Forest 40. Photo by L.Muldoon Trees in Forest 40.

Moroccan Cypress

Cupressus dupreziana variety atlantica

Other common names

Atlantic cypress; French: Cypres de l'Atlas; Berber: Azel.

Tarout

Cupressus dupreziana variety dupreziana

Other common names

Saharan cypress; French: Cypres de Duprez.

Origin of the species name

Cupressus is Latin for cypress; dupreziana is named after Captain Duprez, a French commander in Algeria who led the collector of the type specimen to the trees; atlantica means from the Atlantic.

Family

Cupressaceae

Date planted

April 2008.

Lifespan

Trees of this species are very long lived and the oldest tarout tree is thought to be at least 2000 years old.

Mature Saharan cypress, Tarout. Photo not from the Arboretum, by J. Newby

General description

These two varieties of Cupressus dupreziana have been planted together and are very similar in their general appearance. They are both small upright conifers with conical shape, becoming broader with maturity, and deeply- fissured, brown bark. The leaves are a lustrous greyish-green and often covered in wax. The shapes of the cones and seeds distinguish the two varieties. The seed cones of variety atlantica are almost round whereas those of variety dupreziana are oval. Cones of both varieties usually appear singly, on lateral branches. Height 20m Spread 6m.

Natural distribution and habitat

Variety atlantica grows in Morocco where it occurs in one or two small groves on steep scree slopes in the Atlas Mountains. Variety dupreziana grows in south-east Algeria where it occurs in very limited, sheltered areas of the Sahara Desert on alluvial gravel and sand. It survives with very low rainfall but can cope with higher rainfall.

Conservation status

Variety atlantica is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, with reproduction being rare. In addition to the impact of harvesting for construction timber and firewood, grazing pressures and drought have had detrimental effects. Variety dupreziana is also listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and may become extinct in the wild, with only about 230 naturally-occurring trees known to exist. Nomads shelter under the trees and their herds eat fallen cones and destroy regeneration, although ten young trees have been discovered and recorded.

Uses

In the past, the wood was used for carpentry. Some illegal harvesting for firewood persists.

Planting pattern

Forest 40 is laid out in a hexagonal pattern and spans both sides of Forest Drive.

Uses

Because of its restricted natural occurrence they have had very limited use although some illegal harvesting for firewood has been recorded.

Further reading

Farjon, A (2010) A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Brill.