Characteristics of Willowmore Cypress (Widdringtonia schwarzii) in the Wild

Widdringtonia schwarzii
Willowmore cypress (Widdringtonia schwarzii) is a species of Widdringtonia native to South Africa, where it is endemic to the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains west of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape Province. The tree grows on dry rocky slopes and cliffs at an altitude of 600-1,200 m asl.

Willowmore cypress is threatened by habitat loss, particularly by forest fires. Widdringtonia schwarzii is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.

All the old and large Willowmore cypress trees have been felled in the past and destroyed by fire, so at this time the large and old specimens are only in inaccessible places. Natural regeneration is low, making the Willowmore cypress species vulnerable to natural fires. The Willowmore cypress trees within the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area are currently protected.

 

Characteristics of Willowmore Cypress Leaf

Widdringtonia schwarzii Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/sheriff_woody_pct

Young needle-like leaves are 2 cm long. The older leaves are 3-4 mm long and arranged oppositely on the branches.

 

Characteristics of Willowmore Cypress Fruit

Widdringtonia schwarzii Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/sheriff_woody_pct

The male cones reach a length of 2 mm and are on short branches. The female cones are round, about 2 cm thick, and dark brown when ripe. Each cone consists of four woody cone scales, which have a rough, warty surface. Flat seeds have striking wings.

 

Characteristics of Willowmore Cypress Tree

Widdringtonia schwarzii Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/sheriff_woody_pct

Willowmore cypress grows as a large evergreen tree that can reach a height of up to 40 meters. Thin bark grayish red fibrous and scaly.

 

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