Tall, Conical Italian Trees

What are the tall, conical trees in this photograph of the Italian countryside? Such trees, and similar brethren, appear to be a staple of Italian landscape photography and art, but damn if I know what they are.


Italian cypress, logically enough.

I’m pretty sure they’re Italian cypress.

That’s a lovely shot of an Italian villa you found there. I think it might become my wallpaper for awhile.

Italian cypress. I have a little one in my living room window.

How can you use such a tiny low-res photo as your wallpaper? Unless you’re posting from a cell phone, I mean.

I’m not sure what other people think, but I vote for Italian cypress.

By the way, I want to cook a goose for Christmas, but I hear they are greasy. Is that true?

Minority report here. While I think the picture linked to inthe OP is Italian cypress, another candidate is the Lombardy poplar, which has the same ‘habit’ (growth shape) and looks quite similar from a distance.

Since they seem to be popular around funeral homes, at least here in SoCal, I have always thought of them as Mortuary Cypresses.

Lombardy Poplars, then.

They’re two quite different trees, with very similar ‘habits’. Note that foliage on the cypresses goes nearly to ground level, while the poplars have bare trunk below the columnar leafy area. The ones in the OP picture seem to be the cypresses; the point I was making is that many such columnar trees (nearly all I’ve seen) were the Lombardy poplars. Not that the identification for the particular trees asked about in the OP was wrong; I think it’s right – but rather that there are in fact two quite different “Italian columns” trees.

Would they hold up in central Illinois (hot, humid summers, cold (very cold) winters)? Would I be committing an environmental crime (like importing kudzu) if I planted one here?

Re poplar vs. cypress:

Of course, similar shape aside, the poplar is a broadleaf, whereas the cypress is a conifer. You can tell at quite a distance whether a particular tall skinny tree has leaves or needles.

In the SF Bay area, Italian Cypress seems to be a relatively common landscape tree. The Lombardy isn’t as poplar, err, popular.

Personally, I think it’s a stupid looking tree, but to each to their own. A page on it’s characteristics:

That says USDA zones 7 to 9, which says that IL may be too cold for it, but there are some other blurbs out there saying that it will grow in “the lower 48”.

Oh, and before I get called on it, yeah, I know it doesn’t actually have needles, but scale-like leaves. I was speaking about being able to generally tell a conifer from a broadleaf at a distance.

I’ve heard them called “pencil cypress” too.

Which makes sense, as in Renaissance and later art, the Italian cypress was a symbol of death.