Leyland Cypress tree identification

The Leyland Cypress  x Cupressocyparis leylandii (also called Leylandii) is a hybrid between the Nootka Cypress and the Monterey Cypress. It is named after C J Leyland who developed the hybrid. The first cross (‘Haggerston Grey’) occurred naturally in 1888 at Leighton Hall in Wales where the two parent species were growing together. Another cross (‘Leighton Green’) was created in 1911. The Leyland Cypress is a very fast growing, evergreen, hardy conifer, common everywhere, particularly in gardens, parks and along roads.

Leyland Cypress tree identification – flat sprays of shoots covered in scale-like leaves, narrow shape and small cones with spikes. The Leyland Cypress can easily be confused with the Lawson Cypress at a distance. However, the topmost branch of the Lawson Cypress droops, whereas that of the Leyland Cypress only leans. Many varieties have been cultivated, each with different foliage. Only ‘Leighton Green’ bears cones. Examples are :- ‘Haggerston Grey’ (female parent Nootka) which has foliage with sprays sticking out at different angles, ‘Leighton Green’ (female parent Monterey Cypress) which has flatter sprays and bears cones,  ‘Castwellian Gold’ which has golden-yellow foliage and ‘Silver Dust’ which has dark green foliage with some creamy-white sprays.

Leyland Cypress mature tree

Mature Leyland Cypress 

Leyland Cypress leaves

All Leyland Cypresses have flat sprays of shoots covered in scale-like leaves similar to the Lawson Cypress. However, unlike the Lawson Cypress, the flat sprays stick out at all angles.

Leyland Cypress shoots and leaves

Sprays at right angles

Leyland Cypress scale leaves

Unlike the Lawson Cypress, the scale-like leaves do not have white markings underneath.

Leyland Cypress cone

One of the few varieties of Leyland Cypress to bear cones is the ‘Leighton Green’ variety. It has 2cm diameter cones, shown here. Each cone scale has a small spike on it. Photo taken in October.

Leyland Cypress open cone

This mature cone has opened to shed seeds. Photo taken in October.

Leyland Cypress closed cone

A closed cone in February. The six seed scales fit together very precisely. The cones are much bigger than those of the Lawson Cypress.

Leyland Cypress bark

The bark is dull red-grey with vertical ridges.