I'm living in the UK and recently gained an intrest for trees, the broad leafed trees are not that bad, but when it comes to the cypresses I still have no idea. I'm also pretty bad at some of the other conifers but hopefully that will change.

What sort of things do you look out for when it comes to identifying cypresses? Every time I look at them I don't know what I'm looking for, I'll compare different ones as I walk around but never really know if they are the same, different, or just different verietys.

One thing I hear mentioned every so often is smells, such as in the collins tree guide it mentions one smelling like shoe polish, but I can never relally deduce much of a smell from the cypresses, they all to me have a similar sent.

Any tips on identifying cypresses would be helpful.

1 Answer 1


The difficulty with conifer ID is usually between the different types, for example, is it a Pinus or a Juniper, or a Cuppressus or another conifer. The way to tell the different types apart is to look closely at the leaf arrangement on the stem, as well as whether the tree has juvenile foliage which is different from the older foliage. Being able to see cones on the tree is also very helpful, for there are differences in the cones trees produce.

If you actually mean how can you tell one variety of Cupressus (which is the proper name for cypress) from another, you just need a good book on conifers, not only with images of each variety, but preferably also with close up images of the leaf arrangements, or to Google 'Cupressus varieties' and check them out that way. The colour of needles, the height and spread and overall growth habit are indicators of variety.

There are various small sized Tree Identification Guide books available which are meant to be carried with you when you're out - I'd advise actually going to a bookshop and thumbing through one or two before making a choice; although they are unlikely to differentiate much between two varieties of Cupressus, these can be very useful for general identification purposes.

  • I was thinking mostly along the lines of trying to identify different varieties of Cupressus, since you mentioned books, do you have any reccomendations on books about Cupresses specifically or more generally about Conifers?
    – PurpJuice
    Commented Dec 12, 2018 at 16:03
  • I don't I'm afraid - the very large book I have here is nearly as old as me and is no longer in print...its a book on conifers and heathers rather than just cupressus. You're unlikely to find anything that concentrates only on Cupressus anyway - but Google, with the right descriptive search terms, can be very useful to ID a particular variety
    – Bamboo
    Commented Dec 13, 2018 at 0:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.