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...like little wooden roses, square plates, central boss: leaves scale-like with the appearance of white Xs where the overlap.
I'm not often "as sure as I can be" with conifers from just photos, but this photo is particularly clear.
How to take close-ups with cheap phone and hand-lens:
Field Guides for Budding Botanists:
... but what allows you to exclude the more rarely planted species of the genus?
...but I was agreeing that it was Lawson Cypress.
Had David chosen a cultivar, I would not have felt able to agree.
I think he did the right thing by going for generic Lawson Cypress.
... the question was how it was distinguished from Chamaecyparis pisifera and the now segregated Xanthocyparis nootkaensis, or even Chamaecyparis obtusa and Chamaecyparis thyoides.
...are we sitting comfortably? This is going to be a bit long-winded. (Sorry, you did write species, not cultivars, I misunderstood!)
C. obtusa (Hinoki) is out at a first glance - the branchlets on that one look like jointed insect legs, you don't even need a hand lens to see it. This is a fat, neat plait of foliage.
C.pisafera has branchlets that are not flat: this is not always easy to determine, especially from photos, but in addition the leaves (Scales? leaf scales? Scale leaves?) have a really sharp, incurved point. This specimen's leaves are clearly short and chunky. Pisafera's foliage is also generally marked white underneath: in this one, we can see the white scale edges but no white markings mid-leaf.
Nootka: the cone bosses have a long curved spike, quite distinctive. Also, the foliage is (how do I say this?) much more like hanging chains, rather than being held stiffly. The white scale edges on Nootka make a zig-zag ladder effect, not the neat Xs of the Lawson cypress.
C. thyoides (White cypress) has very short bunches of branchlets, not the nice fans or sprays that we see here. And the bark peels in long strips, which does not appear to be present here.
The white Xs are very distinctive and typical of Lawson Cypress, so I felt confident enough to support David's ID.
Having said all that, I had a qualm immediately after I agreed, concerning the length of clear trunk that was shown in the photos, as I would expect Lawson Cypress to be covered with branches pretty much down to the ground.
But hey, what's a girl to do? My best guess with the evidence provided is to agree with David. Conifers are a difficult group, and in real life I would never make an ID from a photo (although sometimes I am expected to do so!). With the specimen to hand, there are other clues such as scent - oh no, you groan, not that hoary old chestnut again - and you get a much better idea of the size/scale of the specimen in real life. And you can hold it up to the light and assess the resin glands.
I'm not sure from your comment whether you are hovering over me, Zeus-like, thundering "You are WRONG!!" or whether you are merely asking for info, or possibly testing me out prior to inviting me to lead a conifer ID course, but I hope I've answered the question to your satisfaction.
(I am joking about the conifer ID course, of course)
Thank you for all the iD tips!
...they are a difficult subject, and every little helps!
If you have a hand-lens, and hold one of the tips up to the light, you can see the translucent resin glands in the scale-like leaves.
I am delighted that my query prompted this lovely discussion. I love the fact that a lonesome cypress in a rose garden is such a fascinating topic. I will print off all the descriptions and pointers and over there to hav a close look to identify all the characteristics!
Thank you everyone!
I used to think that all conifers were dull, dull, dull, and that cupressacea in particular (the ones with scale leaves, rather than the ones with needles/flattened leaves) were doubly dull.
But since studying them this past winter, I've actually learned to appreciate them - just make sure you take a hand lens with you. It's all in the detail...
And I hope you (and Stewart) noticed that I put up an Obs of Hinoki cypress to demonstrate the very recognisable "insect legs" of the scale leaves. It's only that conifer, and Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar, used for making pencils) which have this weird formation. So it's an easy one to learn!
Enjoy! And get out there, Hinoki-spotting!
Lat/Lng: 51.402, -0.187
OS grid ref: TQ262685