Cypress trees in North America are members of the same family as cedars, junipers and redwoods. Cypress trees, according to Nearctica, typically occur in "small populations" in areas of the West, with each species slightly different from the others. Cypress trees are useful as ornamentals, as they feature strong decay-resistant wood and frequently emit a pleasant scent.
The Gowen cypress (Cupressus goveniana) grows in northern and central sections of California, always within close proximity to coastal areas. The Gowen cypress often grows in conjunction with other redwoods. The tree has foliage resembling scales, as do all the cypresses, with each branchlet covered with overlapping scales only about 1/16 of an inch long, developing in four rows on the twigs. Gowen cypress grows to different sizes depending upon their locale; some are no larger than shrubs, while others may top 100 feet.
The sole cypress tree that is native to portions of the Southwest, the Arizona cypress (Cupressus arizonica) may attain heights of 50 feet. Arizona cypress can grow in dry ground, such as that found along stony slopes and in canyons, but the tree will do fine in well-draining, fertile soil. A tree of elevations lower than 3,000 feet, the Arizona cypress is useful as a windbreak or Christmas tree and its durable wood makes excellent fence posts. Arizona cypress features a 1-inch-wide woody and red-brown cone with as many as eight scales shaped like shields protecting the tree's seeds. Arizona cypress is evergreen and has a cone shape, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sargent cypress (Cupressus sargentii) grows along California's coast, with the notable exception of the Southern California region. Sargent cypress, when constantly exposed to the wind, rarely becomes bigger than a shrub, but in protected fertile sites it can be 75 feet tall, reports the U.S. Forest Service. Sargent cypress has a rough and furrowed bark, dull green foliage and cones as wide as 1 inch. The species is very similar to Gowen cypress, with the best way to discern one from the other being observation of the foliage. Sargent cypress has a paler shade of green to its leaves, which are also longer than those of Gowen cypress.
The Baker cypress (Cupressus bakeri) is North America's most northerly growing cypress tree, asserts Oregon State University. Baker cypress occurs as far north as southwestern Oregon, with the tree's range including the mountainous terrain of northern California. Baker cypress, although it may be as tall as 70 feet, usually stays under 50 feet. The species grows slowly and requires soil that does not retain water to thrive. Baker cypress, also called Modoc cypress, has almost round grey to brown cones.