Listings: Endangered, Federal Endangered Species Act; Endangered, California
The Plant’s Story
The endangered Santa Cruz Cypress, Cupressus abramsiana, is found only in the coastal Santa Cruz Mountains of central California, where it grows in gravelly, sandy soils above the fog belt, with chaparral and other evergreen species. This tree, once abundant, succumbed over the years to vineyard and home development, and road building. Only five populations totaling a few thousand individuals remain, all within a 15-mile stretch of the coast. It was Federally listed in 1987. It is still threatened by competition with non-native plants such as pampas grass and French broom, insect infestation and hybridization with other cypress species.
The Artist’s Story: Maria Cecilia Freeman
I live ten minutes from two of the remaining populations of Cupressus abramsiana. When I set out to study the cypress, I contacted our local chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Its Conservation Committee Chair and Coordinator of Research at the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum helped me distinguish this cypress from other more common species, showed me specimen plants at the Arboretum, and allowed me to take home cuttings with cones to study and draw in detail. I visited the trees repeatedly to study their branching habit, bark, leaves and cones as the seasons changed.
More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.