Native to southern Europe and western Asia
At Hearst Castle:
Italian Cypresses are important elements in the formal, Italianate gardens at Hearst Castle. They are planted at the Neptune Pool, the North Terrace, and the Gymnasium.
The natural lifespan of an Italian cypres is several centuries. Our hilltop cypresses are not dying because of old age; they are more likely suffering from stress caused by crowded roots and lack of water. Italian Cypresses are a hallmark of classic Italian gardens, whether modern or ancient. The tradition of planting these trees in cemeteries stems from the sacred association of cypress trees with the Roman god of the underworld, Pluto. W. R. Hearst purchased some of our Italian Cypress trees in 1928 from the Clausen Ranch in Paso Robles. He paid $10 apiece for the trees and $4 per day to have the lot of them watered for 2 years. Hearst’s workmen dug each of the 33 trees (6 feet square and 5 feet deep) and then built wooden boxes around the root systems. The boxed trees were left in the ground and watered by the Clausens during the two years so that the trees could grow strong new roots. The trees made the long journey by truck to San Simeon over the Cuesta grade and then up the coast to the Enchanted Hill.
Columnar, evergreen conifer up to 80 feet tall. Branches grow upright, with dark-green, scale-like leaves. Cones are round and small, 1-1.5 inches across.