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Fitzroya cupressoides - (Molina.)I.M.Johnst.

Common Name Alerce, Patagonian cypress
Family Cupressaceae
USDA hardiness 7-10
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Usually found in boggy ground up to 800 metres, though it is also found at higher and cooler altitudes that have high atmospheric humidity, it is then usually associated with Nothofagus dombeyi.
Range S. America - Chile, Argentina.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Frost Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Fitzroya cupressoides Alerce, Patagonian cypress

Fitzroya cupressoides Alerce, Patagonian cypress


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Fitzroya cupressoides is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 8. It is in leaf all year, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


F. patagonica. Pinus cupressoides.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

Fibre;  Wood.

A fibre obtained from the inner bark is used for caulking boats[139]. Wood - light, very durable, immune to insect attacks, of excellent quality. It is used for construction, carpentry, musical instruments etc[46, 61, 139].

Cultivation details

This species dislikes soils that dry out rapidly, preferring an acid soil with a pH around 5[200]. It grows best in humid conditions, especially on north facing slopes or in the shelter of a woodland edge[200]. It dislikes cold drying winds[200]. A very ornamental tree[1], it is much hardier in Britain than was once thought[11]. Generally a very slow growing tree in Britain but young plants can grow 30cm a year and growth can continue until October[185]. A very slow growing and long-lived tree in its native habitat[139, 200], probably to 3000 years or more, but trees are unlikely to survive that long in Britain[200]. Plants grow best in the mild and damp maritime climate of south-west and west Britain[185, 200]. Plants can be monoecious or dioecious, though they are more often dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is to be produced, though there is a report that trees rarely produce fertile seed in Britain[200]..


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Seed - we have no information on this species but suggest sowing the seed in early spring in a cold frame. 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. Once they have reached a height of at least 30cm, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[200]. Cuttings, August, in a sandy soil in a frame[1].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

ak jinn   Sat Apr 17 15:47:56 2004

biggest tree in southern hemisphere, height usually 40 to 50 m, excepcionally 70 m, trunk diameter usually 1 - 3 m, excepcionally 5 m, growth rate extremely slow, 1 mm. width per year, known to live 3665 years, needs at least 2500 mm of precipitation, grows better at 4000 mm. Chile and Argentina. Patagonia. Moderately cold winters ( from 0 to 4 degrees average) and mild cool summers ( 12 to 15 degrees average).

Tomás Natiello   Tue Aug 10 17:49:01 2004

Alerces National Park in Argentina is the best place to see some ftioroya of about 3000/4000 year old. It is near a city called Esquel in Patagonia

Link: Web Esquel Info about Los Alerces National Park

shane thomson   Wed Nov 21 2007

can this tree be bought in britan or seeds.

someone   Thu Nov 29 2007

are you sure that there are no medical purposes?

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