Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana (C.B.Wolf) Little

Endemic to California, USA where fire and urbanisation are the mian threats


USA, California: Santa-Cruz Mountains, 3 localities in Santa Cruz County: with stands near Bonny Doon, and small stands at Eagle Rock and Boulder Creek [“Brackenbrae”]; also 1 locality in San Mateo County on the south side of Butano Ridge.

The largest subpopulation is partly within the protection of the Bonny Doon National Reserve. Other stands near Bonny Doon are found within private real estate, in both these stands and the part of the subpopulation within the national reserve there is protection from fires, which allows pine spesies (Pinus spp.) to outcompete Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana. The very small stand at Eagle Rock only has a few individuals surrounded by chaparral so it is a high-risk stand. This is a rare variety with each of the four subpopulations thought to have fewer than 100 mature individuals.

Habitat and Ecology

The Boulder Creek subpopulation grows in sterile, sandy, chaparral habitat within a Redwood-Mixed Evergreen Forest mosaic. The Bonny Doon subpopulation grows amongst knobcone pine (Pinus attenuata) on sandstone outcrops and with ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) on deeper soils.

Human Uses

No known uses or trade of this variety. It is possibly planted as an ornamental on some private properties in the area.

Conservation Status

Global status

Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v)

Global rationale

Both the estimated number of mature trees in the global population (<300) and the area of occupancy (16km²) take this variety close to Endangered, or within this category based on continuous decline. However, the extent of ocurrence (72km²) and the continuous decline inferred from the threats affecting a highly fragmented population place it as Critically Endangered under the B criterion.

Global threats

Subpopulations are all found in dry forest ecosystems associated with high fire risk chaparral habitats. Increased human pressures through development has direct impact through forest clearance, and indirect impacts through fire management (prevention and extinguishing), which benefits Pinus spp. and allows these larger conifers to outcompete Cupressus arizonica var. abramsiana.

Conservation Actions

The largest subpopulation is partly found within the Bonnie Doon National Reserve, however, the remaining subpopulations are outside any protected areas.
To prevent increased pressure from urban development and manage fire risks in a way that does not in the long term disadvantage this taxon.

References and further reading

  1. Adams, R.P., Bartel, J.A. & Price, R.A.. (2009). A new genus, Hesperocyparis, for the cypresses of the western hemisphere. Phytologia 91(1):160-185.
  2. de Laubenfels, D.J. (2009). Nomenclatural actions for the New World cypresses (Cupressaceae). Novon 19(3):300-306.
  3. Farjon, A. (2005.) A Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  4. Farjon, A. (2013). Cupressus goveniana var. abramsiana. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. . Downloaded on 06 July 2013.
  5. Little, D.P. (2006). Evolution and circumscription of the true cypresses (Cupressaceae: Cupressus). Systematic Botany 31(3): 461-480.