Types of Italian Cypress

Updated February 21, 2017

Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) are evergreen trees distinctly characterised by their narrow columnar growth habit. The trees grow to heights of 40 to 60 feet but do not get any wider than 3 to 6 feet. The foliage is fine-textured and scale-like. The trees are often planted together to create dense screens that require little pruning to keep in shape. Italian cypress has a medium growth rate and grows best in areas of full sun. The tree adapts well to a variety of soil types including acidic and alkaline.


Stricta Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens ‘Stricta’) is a columnar, slender Italian cypress variety. The tree is very narrow, achieving a mature width of about 2 feet. Stricta has an average to fast growth rate and grows to a mature height of 20 to 30 feet. The tree has superior tolerance to cold and the deep green foliage has a touch of blue. In its native habitats in Italy, the tree grows abundantly in wild stands. Stricta grows best in full sun to partial shade and prefers a slightly acidic, well-drained soil. The tree is popularly used to line driveways and at entryways.

Totem Pole

Totem pole (Cupressus sempervirens ‘Totem Pole’) is a compact, Italian cypress variety with the distinct Italian cypress columnar growth. The tree grows to a mature height of 32 feet and with a maximum spread of 6 feet. The tree has dark green, scaly foliage and it is commonly used as a focal point in landscapes. Totem pole Italian cypress is propagated with seed or semi-hardwood cuttings. The trees are susceptible to cypress canker and cypress aphid. Plant in moist, well-drained soil in areas of full sun. The trees are low maintenance and well resistant to pollution.

Swane's Gold

Swane’s gold Italian cypress (Cupressus sempervirens ‘Swane’s Gold’) is a mid-sized Italian cypress variety with distinct light-yellow to greenish-yellow foliage colour. The narrow, columnar Swane’s gold grows to a mature height of about 20 feet with a maximum spread of 4 feet. The unique gold foliage of Swane’s gold retains its colour throughout the year. The tree adapts well to a variety of well-drained soils including chalky and clay. The trees are best planted away from areas of high wind in full sun locations.

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About the Author

Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.