Cupressus sempervirens

Common name   Cypress
Hebrew name   ברוש מצוי
أللّغة آلعربيّة   سرو ناز
Family Cupressaceae
Petals No petals
Leaf form Needle shaped
Leaf margin Entire
Habitat Heavy soils
צורת הגבעול Round
Life form Tree
Flowering months
Endangered Medicinal allergenic


© Photo: Amikam Shoob  
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Additional information

Cypress is a tall and erect coniferous evergreen tree. It may reach a height of 25 meters. It is very common in boulevards, ornamental gardens, planted forests, cemeteries and as a windbreaker around plantations. Herzl’s cypress tree, which was planted by Herzl at Motza, is also a Funeral Cypress. Isolated remains indicate that the cypress grew wild in Israel. Wild cypress remains were found in the Galilee (Kziv Stream), on Mount Hermon, Gilead and Edom. In Crete there are wild cypress trees that are believed to be 450 years old, and in Israel there is a planted individual that is approximately 230 years old. It is difficult to assess its age by the annual xylem rings, because it may form several pseudo-rings within one year which do not encircle its trunk entirely.
The Hebrew name is biblical, although it is not certain that the bible referred to the same species.
In the wild form, the branches are horizontal and impart the tree with a conical (“Christmas tree”) shape. The cultivated variety, which was apparently isolated by the Romans during antiquity, has erect branches which are parallel to the trunk, and create a narrow sword-shaped, dense and erect structure. This form is called Funeral Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens var. pyramidalis).
The leaves are scaly, not needle-shaped, appressed to the branches. The cone (strobilus) is spherical, 3 cm in diameter. It lignifies and hardens upon maturation and its scales open for dispersal of the seeds.
The male cones are carried at the tips of the green branches. They are less than 5 mm in length and light brown in color. The pollen is plentiful, fills the air during dry days in spring. The pollen causes seasonal hay fever among people who are allergic to this species.

Written by Mike Livne


Some scholars believe it is impossible to know with certainty the identity of what is called the fir tree. Some suggest it is a type of cypress, but it could be another evergreen, the juniper, or cedar.

2 Samuel 6:5 (KJV) And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

1 Kings 5:10 (KJV) So Hiram gave Solomon cedar trees and fir trees according to all his desire.

1 Kings 6:15 (KJV) And he built the walls of the house within with boards of cedar, both the floor of the house, and the walls of the ceiling: and he covered them on the inside with wood, and covered the floor of the house with planks of fir.

Isaiah 60:13 (KJV) The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.

Isaiah 60:14 (KJV) The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee, The city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.