Herb: Italian Cypress

Latin name: Cupressus sempervirens

Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Medicinal use of Italian Cypress:

The cones and young branches are anthelmintic, antipyretic, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, balsamic and vasoconstrictive. They are harvested in late winter and early spring, then dried for later use. Taken internally, it is used in the treatment of whooping cough, the spitting up of blood, spasmodic coughs, colds, flu and sore throats. Applied externally as a lotion or as a diluted essential oil (using an oil such as almond), it astringes varicose veins and haemorrhoids, tightening up the blood vessels. A foot bath of the cones is used to cleanse the feet and counter excessive sweating. The extracted essential oil should not be taken internally without professional guidance. A resin is obtained from the tree by making incisions in the trunk. This has a vulnerary action on slow-healing wounds and also encourages whitlows to come to a head. An essential oil from the leaves and cones is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Astringent".

Description of the plant:


30 m
(98 feet)

January to


Habitat of the herb:

Rocky mountainous areas, usually near the coast, in S. Europe.

Other uses of Italian Cypress:

An essential oil is distilled from the shoots. It is used in perfumery and soap making. The leaves contain about 2% essential oil whilst the wood contains about 2.5%. An infusion of the wood is used in footbaths to combat perspiration of the feet. Wood - fragrant, very hard and durable. A popular wood for building uses, cabinet making and wardrobes, especially since it retains its fragrance, repels moths and is impervious to woodworm.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow late winter in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. Three weeks cold stratification can improve germination rates. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 2 months at 20C. The seedlings are very subject to damping off so should be watered with care and kept well-ventilated. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. The seed can store for several years. Cuttings of almost ripe wood, September in a frost-proof frame. April/May is the best time to take cuttings.

Cultivation of Italian Cypress:

Rocky mountainous areas, usually near the coast, in S. Europe.

Known hazards of Cupressus sempervirens:

Poisonous. No more details.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.