Basic Information
Common Name: Tecate Cypress
Scientific Name: Hesperocyparis forbesii
Species Code: HESFOR
Management Category: VF (species with limited distribution in the MSPA or needing specific vegetation characteristics requiring management)
Occurrence Map
Table of Occurrences
UNR Thorne's Hairstreak Monitoring
Monitoring of the Thorne's hairstreak and mapping Tecate cypress. (1) Conduct occupancy surveys for Thorne's hairstreak adults and juveniles. (2) Characterize habitat associated with Thorne's hairstreak presence. (3) Age trees (by coring) in sampled stands of Tecate cypress. (4) Conduct larval and adult experiments to assess the importance of tree age for Thorne's hairstreak. (5) Analyze data from 2009 and 2010 and prepare final report.
Vegetation Mapping and Classification 2012
This project first created a vegetation classification system and manual. Then, based on 2012 data, this project completed 3 tasks: Task 1. Vegetation Mapping. Task 2. Invasive Nonnative Species Plant Mapping. Task 3. Tecate Cypress Mapping. In 2014, the data was updated based on user's comments. The final products are available to download in the data section.

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).

Literature Sources

[1] CNPS, Rare Plant Program. 2016. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants (online edition, v8-02). California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA., accessed 09 September 2016.

[2] Bartel, J.A. 2016. Hesperocyparis forbesii, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on September 09, 2016.

[3] Markovchick-Nicholls, L. 2005. “Southern Californian Obligate Fire Seeder, Cupressus Forbesii: Population Status, Research Prioritization, and Management Options.” San Diego State University.

[4] Rodriguez-buritica, S., K. Suding, and K. Preston. 2010. “Santa Ana Mountains Tecate Cypress ( Cupressus Forbesii ) Management Plan.”

[5] Borchert, M., M. Johnson, D. S. Schreiner, and S. B. Vander Wall. 2003. “Early Postfire Seed Dispersal, Seedling Establishment and Seedling Mortality of Pinus Coulteri (D. Don) in Central Coastal California, USA.” Plant Ecology 168 (2): 207–20. doi:10.1023/A:1024447811238.

[6] Dunn, A. T. 1985. “The Tecate Cypress.” Fremontia 13 (3).

[7] Regan, H. M., A. D. Syphard, J. Franklin, R. M. Swab, L. Markovchick, A. L. Flint, L. E. Flint, and P. H. Zedler. 2012. “Evaluation of Assisted Colonization Strategies under Global Change for a Rare, Fire-Dependent Plant.” Global Change Biology 18 (3): 936–47. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02586.x.

[8] de Gouvenain, R. C., and A. M. Ansary. 2006. “Association Between Fire Return Interval and Population Dynamics in Four California Populations of Tecate Cypress (Cupressus Forbesii).” The Southwestern Naturalist 51 (4): 447–54.