San Diego Management & Monitoring Program

Tecate cypress
Hesperocyparis forbesii

Kingdom Phylum Subphylum Class Order Suborder Family

Current distribution rangewide

West Peninsular Ranges in Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties [1, 2]. Northwestern Baja California, Mexico.

Known Populations in San Diego County

Six occurrences on Conserved Lands in MUs 3 (BLM, Marron Valley, Otay Mountain Wilderness Area, Otay Ranch Preserve) and 9 (Cleveland National Forest).

List status

None [1].

Habitat affinities

Clay, gabbroic, or metavolcanic chaparral and closed-cone coniferous forest [1]. Elevation range 80-1500 meters. Often found in the wildland urban interface of Southern California chaparral [3].

Taxonomy and genetics

Cupressaceae family [1]. Synonyms include Callitropsis forbesii, Cupresses forbesii, and Cupresses guadalupensis ssp. forbesii.

Life history demography

Perennial evergreen tree [1]. Fire adapted with a fire interval of 30-40 years [4]. Seed bank is influenced by fire intervals due to "immaturity risk" and "senescence risk". Less frequently burned lower-slope stands act as seed source for the intermittent recolonization of upper slopes [5].

Seasonal phenology

No information.

Pollination seed dispersal

Obligate seeder with serotinous cones [4]. Thin coated seeds are incapable of retaining fertility for long once exposed [6]. Requires bare mineral soil for seedling establishment.


Alteration of fire regimes, drought, climate change, air pollution, invasive plants, and human disturbance [4].

Special considerations:

Single most important thing land managers can do is reduce fire frequency [4]. The cumulative effects of multiple threats in the context of climate change need to be considered prior to assisted colonization [7]. Must also consider the species composition and fire history of the recipient area. Thorne's hairstreak butterflies (Mitoura thornei) depend on the Tecate cypress [8]. Prime habitat for the San Diego horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum blainvillii).

Tecate cypress sources