Species: Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa)

Family: Cypresses (CUPRESSACEAE)

Category: Non-Flowering Plants

Location: NW

A. Non-Flowering Plants

More extensive information on non-flowering plants can be found in a separate blog post.


The leaves of this very widely distributed family are opposite or whorled, and usually paired or in threes. In many species the bark flakes or peels in vertical strips.

Conifers (which includes cypresses) are classed as non-flowering plants because seeds are borne externally on the upper surface of the scales of female cones.

C. Monterey Cypress (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa)

This tree is native to the central coast of California, where the two remaining forests grow in cool, moist conditions, almost always bathed in sea fog. The foliage grows in dense sprays, which are bright green. When crushed they release a strong lemony fragrance.

Most people visiting Heene Cemetery for the first time assume that the three Monterey Cypress trees that dominate the site would have been planted by the Victorians. Yet we have aerial photographs taken over west Worthing in 1924 that don't show these trees in their current position. We can therefore say with certainty that they were planted after that date, and that they are no more than a hundred years old.

When you look closer and see the way in which these trees have (in the case of two of them) either shouldered headstones aside or entombed them in their trunks and started to lift them out of the ground, it's obvious that these trees were not planted by man: who would allow them to have been planted in a grave (one dating from 1897)? In all probability, squirrels did the planting, having taken cones from mature trees in neighbouring gardens.

Given this unusual history, one might ask why the young saplings were not removed when they first emerged? We can't answer that, but it may be that the church or the council either lacked the manpower to do this or that they maintained, then as now, a no-dig policy.

You can see photographs of the relevant headstones in a blog article we have on the cemetery's trees.


Monterey Cypress

The foliage of the Monterey Cypress grows in dense sprays, which are bright green.

Monterey Cypress

When crushed the foliage of the Monterey Cypress releases a strong lemony fragrance.

Monterey Cypress

The Monterey Cypress is native to the central coast of California.