Cupressus dupreziana (sync.Cupressus sempervirens var.
Saharan Cypress, Tassili Cypress, Duprez Cypress
- Evergreen conifer, trees to 20 m tall; similar to the Italian Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens),
possibly only a geographical form; it differs in that its shoots are flatter, small leaves have a gland-pit
at the base, and the cones are much smaller but longer. Foliage very dense. Leaves are
scales, opposite, slightly appressed, acuminate, 1-1.5 mm long, dull green, resin gland elongated, not
noticeable except on the base of old leaves. Female seed cones terminal, purple, ovoid, 2.5 mm
diameter, developing into and elongated cone 18-24 by 16-20 mm; grey-brown.
- Sun. Very drought tolerant.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 9 Native to the Tassili Mountains in the central Sahara Desert in
southeastern Algeria. There are only a few hundred specimens left in the wild; a very rare and
- Cupressus dupreziana has a very unique reproduction strategy, it does not involve the usual
combining of male and female sex cells. "..it is the only species in the plant kingdom known to
reproduce by cloning its male genetic material through a process known as male apomixis. Female
apomixis — the division of female cells inside a flower’s ovary as a means of seed formation — is common in
several species, including dandelions and blackberries, but male cloning requires an additional step unique
to the Saharan cypress: Pollen, carrying the male cells, enters the tree’s ovule, but instead of combining
with the female cells, it divides internally to become a viable seed genetically identical to itself" (Saudi
Aramco World, Vol.58 (5), Sept./Oct., 2007).
- dupreziana: in honor of Captain Duprez, commander of French forces at Fort Charlet in the Djanet
oasis (Algeria). He found the trees in 1924 at the foot of the nearly 2000-meter-high (6500')
Tassili plateau. He wrote to a biologist “I discovered one day in a small wadi called Tamrit a
tree with foliage and habit too unusual for the area not to attract my attention.”
- Santa Cruz, California: Univ. Calif. Santa Cruz Arboretum