Northwest Conifers


Modoc Cypress – Hesperocyparis bakeri

Leaves: The tiny (1/16") scaled leaves are gray-green with gland dots that produce a white resin. 


Cones: 1/2 to 1" forming a sphere with 6 or 8 scales that have a point in the center of each.  The cones often remain closed until a wildfire comes, releasing the seeds.


Bark: The smooth, red-brown bark becomes peeling and then gray on larger trees.


Where it grows: This rare cypress grows in a few isolated sites in southwest Oregon and northern California. It grows farther north than any other cypress in North America.  The most northern site is at Flounce Rock, northeast of Medford.

Modoc cypress at Hoyt Arboretum


USGS Distribution Map

Names:  The tree is native to the land of the Modoc people, giving it its common name. Other common names: Baker cypress and Siskiyou cypress. The species name bakeri honors California plant explorer Milo Baker, who discovered the species in 1898. Recently, Taxonomists removed North American cypresses from the Cupressus genus and placed them in a new genus, Hesperocyparis. For more information, see The Gymnosperm Database.


© 2012 Ken Denniston