Cupressus semperivrens. Getty Images

Cupressus sempervirens

Italian cypress

  • Botanical name: Cupressus sempervirens
  • Common name: Italian cypress
  • Family: Cupressaceae
  • Plant Type: Tree, Evergreen
Foliage colour:


The tall, narrow, dark green columns of Cupressus sempervirens are a familiar sight, dotting the gardens and landscapes of countries around the Mediterranean. Native to the Eastern Mediterranean region, this conifer tree has been a particular favourite for planting around Italy, hence its common name of Italian cypress.


The pencil-thin shape and evergreen foliage of Cupressus sempervirens make it a popular choice for creating architectural interest, especially in urban gardens where space is limited and where its shape suits a formal style of garden. Cupressus sempervirens is hardy but although tolerant of cold, a sheltered site is essential as winds can distort and damage the columnar growth. Avoid planting in areas of high-rainfall areas as this tree is prone to attack from airborne fungi.

Once established, Cupressus sempervirens is tolerant of drought. Plant in soil that is well drained and avoid heavy soils that are prone to waterlogging, especially in winter. Ideally plant in spring and keep watered during dry spells for the first couple of growing seasons. To maintain its slender shape, trim several times during May to September, starting when the tree is young. There are named varieties that naturally maintain a narrow shape, such as Stricta Group and ‘Totem Pole’.

Cupressus sempervirens is widely available to buy as pot grown plants all year round in an extensive choice of sizes, from nurseries, garden centres, or online.

Where to buy Cupressus sempervirens

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How to grow Cupressus sempervirens

  • Plant size

    90m height

    1.2m spread

  • Sun exposure: Full shade
  • Hardiness: Hardy
  • Soil type: Acidic / chalky / alkaline / well drained / light / sandy

Cupressus sempervirens and wildlife

Cupressus sempervirens is known for attracting birds. It provides shelter and habitat.

Does not attract Bees

Does not attract Beneficial insects

Attractive to Birds

Does not attract Butterflies​/​Moths

Does not attract Other pollinators

Is Cupressus sempervirens poisonous?

Cupressus sempervirens has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:

No reported toxicity to Birds

No reported toxicity to Cats

No reported toxicity to Dogs

No reported toxicity to Horses

No reported toxicity to Livestock

No reported toxicity to People