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Hesperocyparis macnabiana

Hesperocyparis macnabiana (A. Murray bis) Bartel

Macnab's Cypress

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Callitropsis macnabiana, Cupressus macnabiana, Neocupressus macnabiana

USDA Symbol: HEMA21

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Small evergreen tree or shrub with stout trunk, several forks, and spreading crown broader than high. Flat sprays of fragrant, gray-green foliage. The tree usually grows to 30 ft. with a branched crown often broader than high. Bark is gray and furrowed.

MacNab Cypress is perhaps the most widely distributed cypress in California. The wood makes durable fenceposts. This species commemorates James MacNab (1810-78), the Scottish horticulturist and curator of the Edinburgh Botanic Garden, who made large horticultural collections in the United States and Canada in 1834.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 30 feet tall. Rarely up to about 50 feet tall in ideal conditions.
Fruit: Though technically incorrect, the seed cones are often referred to as berries.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Brown
Bloom Notes: Bloom color refers to mature pollen cones and seed cones.


Native Distribution: Sierra foothills from Amador to Butte Cos.; inner Coast Ranges from Shasta to Sonoma Cos.
Native Habitat: Dry flats & slopes; 1000-2600 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, sometimes serpentine, soils.
Conditions Comments: McNab cypress is fast-growing to 12 ft., then slow.


Description: Stratified seeds will germinate at 72 degrees. The percent of viable seed is often low.
Seed Collection: Most cypresses have seratiunous cones that can hang on the trees for several years without opening. Cone should be collected by cutting them from the limbs. They can be opened by boiling for 30-60 seconds.
Seed Treatment: Cool-moist stratify for 30 days at 34 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 37 - Calscape (2019) California Native Plant Society

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hesperocyparis macnabiana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hesperocyparis macnabiana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hesperocyparis macnabiana


Record Modified: 2023-03-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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