Quick facts

Common names: Leyland cypress, cypress, leylandii

Scientific name: Cupressus x leylandii

Family: Cupressaceae

Origin: non-native

Leyland cypress trees can grow to 40m. The foliage is dense and hides much of the trunk. The bark is red-grey with ridges, and twigs are slender, brown and flexible.

Look out for: the smell of resin when the foliage is crushed.

Identified in winter by: male cones, which are yellow at tips of twigs. Female cones are rounded.

 

What does Leyland cypress look like?

cypress leyland leaves close-up

Credit: FLPA / Alamy Stock Photo

Leaves

Scale-like, soft and overlapping, leaves form in flat sprays on long stalks.

cypress blue pine cones

Credit: Marjan Cermelj / Alamy Stock Photo

Flowers

Ball-shaped cones are small and brown, and each scale has a central spine.

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Did you know?

It is thought that it was created by accident in a Welsh garden nursery in the 19th century, when two species of cypress – Monterey and Nootka (both from North America) cross-bred.

Where to find Leyland cypress

As a sterile hybrid accidentally created in Wales from two species of cypress from North America, Leyland cypress is not found in the wild. It is fast-growing and therefore commonly grown in the UK as a hedge in residential areas. It grows well in most soils and prefers full sun.

goldcrest nest in cypress tree

Credit: LPA / Alamy Stock Photo

Value to wildlife

When grown as a hedge, the dense foliage of Leyland cypress provides shelter for garden birds, which often nest in it.

cypress clipped garden hedge

Credit: FLPA / Alamy Stock Photo

Uses of Leyland cypress

Leyland cypress is most commonly used as a garden hedging plant as it grows very quickly and has dense foliage. However, its rate of growth often exceeds expectations and trees can quickly grow to 40m, becoming difficult to control and blocking light from neighbouring gardens.

Threats and conservation

Brown patches can develop in summer when the trees are in active growth. They may be caused by cypress aphid, scale insects, dieback, canker, or even over-enthusiastic hedge trimming.