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What Is a Boulevard Cypress?

A Boulevard Cypress is a captivating ornamental tree, cherished for its soft, silvery-blue foliage and graceful, conical shape. This evergreen is a garden favorite, offering year-round beauty and tranquility. Its adaptability makes it a versatile choice for many landscapes. Wondering how this serene tree can transform your outdoor space? Let's uncover the possibilities together.
Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins

The boulevard cypress is not one of the 10 true Cupressus species, with iconic names like Italian, weeping and mourning cypress. Scientifically speaking, this tree is a bush named Chamaecyparis pisifera, a member of a cultivated genus of cypress confiners with rubbery evergreen leaves. Also called sawara false cypress or Japanese false cypress, saplings are commonly sought for bonsai trees and for adding an Asian flair to rock gardens and koi ponds.

The false cypress is native to Japan. A certain conical cultivar of this tree has a turquoise tone and is dubbed the sawara, snow white or boulevard cypress. In Latin, Chamaecyparis means "low-growing cypress," while pisifera means "bearing peas." It is typically used in landscaping as a bush that is pruned to suit its environment.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

Only a few cypress trees are typically suggested for bonsai: C. pisifera and the hinoki cypress, or C. obtusa. If left un-pruned in its native temperate climate, however, this genus can reportedly grow as tall as about 60 feet (nearly 20 m). In other climates it is more likely to top out somewhere around 30 feet (about 9 m) though, with some nurseries reporting cultivars with heights of just 10 feet (about 3 m) or less.

When planting boulevard cypress, the first consideration should be its tolerance of the climate. For North America, the North Carolina State University Extension reports that this tree is suitable for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones four to eight. This means, wherever it is planted outdoors around the globe, the climate should mirror the temperature extremes and seasonal changes of the United States — from the Pacific to the Atlantic, from often-frigid parts of Minnesota and Michigan down to some of the less-arid areas of Texas and Florida.

Boulevard cypress thrives in full sun and moist, nutrient-rich soil. That is not to say it cannot also survive while clinging to a combination of dirt and rocks. Biologists also report that the boulevard cultivar does not shed its inner foliage, meaning it may need more pruning than other cypress alternatives.

Several types of true Cupressus species also make regular appearances in landscaping schemes throughout the world. Italian cypress, or C. sempervirens, forms into tall, thin and tidy cones that need little pruning to provide a uniform-looking privet or wind break. Other much-touted cypress selections with varied climate preferences include the Chinese weeping cypress, or C. funebris, and funeral cypress, or C. funebris. Others grow almost exclusively in native habitats like the African cypress, or Callitroideae Widdringtonia.

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