Not to be confused with Calytrix (a genus in Myrtaceae) or Callithrix (a genus of New World monkeys).
Callitris preissii
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Subfamily: Callitroideae
Genus: Callitris
Callitris verrucosa cones

Callitris is a genus of coniferous trees in the Cupressaceae (cypress family). There are 15 recognised species in the genus, of which 13 are native to Australia and the other two (C. neocaledonica, C. sulcata) native to New Caledonia.[1] Traditionally, the most widely used common name is cypress-pine,[2] a name shared by some species of the closely related genus Actinostrobus.[3]

They are small to medium-sized trees or large shrubs, reaching 5–25 m (16–82 ft) tall (to 40 m (130 ft) in C. macleayana). The leaves are evergreen and scale-like, except for on young seedlings, where they are needle-like; in C. macleayana, needle-like leaves are found mixed with scale leaves throughout the tree's life. The scales are arranged in six rows along the twigs, in alternating whorls of three (often in whorls of four in C. macleayana).

Callitris glauca (White Cypress), Lightning Ridge, NSW

The male cones are small, 3–6 mm (0.12–0.24 in) long, and are located at the tips of the twigs. The female cones start out similarly inconspicuous, maturing in 18–20 months to 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) long and wide, globular to ovoid (acute in C. macleayana), with six overlapping, thick, woody scales, arranged in two whorls of three (often 8 scales in C. macleayana). The cones remain closed on the trees for many years, opening only after being scorched by a bushfire; this then releases the seeds to grow on the newly cleared burnt ground.

The genus is divided into two sections, with the atypical C. macleayana in sect. Octoclinis, and all the other species in sect. Callitris. Some botanists treat C. macleayana in a separate genus, as Octoclinis macleayana. C. macleayana is also distinct in occurring in rainforest on the east coast of Australia; the other species all grow on dry sites.

Forest Flora NSW Plate 46 Callitris
Forest Flora NSW Plate 47 Callitris

The closest relatives of Callitris are Actinostrobus from southwest Western Australia, which differs in its cones having several basal whorls of small sterile scales, and Neocallitropsis from New Caledonia, distinct in its needle-like leaves throughout the life of the plant (not just seedlings) and always arranged in whorls of four (not three). A 2010 study of Actinostrobus and Callitris places the three species of Actinostrobus within an expanded Callitris based on analysis of 42 morphological and anatomical characters. [4]

The wood of cypress-pines is light, soft and aromatic. It can be easily split and resists decay; cypress-pine is also termite resistant. It is used to make furniture, indoor and outdoor paneling, and fence posts. Cypress-pines are occasionally planted as ornamental trees, but their use is restricted by the high risks imposed by their very high flammability in bushfires.

Callitris columellaris is naturalised in southern Florida, where it is usually known by the synonym Callitris glaucophylla.

In 2010, early Oligocene fossilised foliage and cones of Callitris were unearthed near the Lea River in Tasmania. The fossils were given the name Callitris leaensis and represent the oldest known representative of the genus.[5]

  1. Callitris baileyi – SE QLD, NE NSW
  2. Callitris canescens – S WA, S SA
  3. Callitris columellarisNSW, QLD, SA, VIC, WA, NT; naturalised in Hawaii and southern Florida
  4. Callitris drummondii – S WA
  5. Callitris endlicheriNSW, QLD, VIC; naturalised in Hawaii + St Helena
  6. Callitris macleayanaQLD, NSW
  7. Callitris monticolaQLD, NSW
  8. Callitris muelleriNSW
  9. Callitris neocaledonica – New Caledonia
  10. Callitris oblongaNSW, TAS
  11. Callitris preissiiSA, VIC, WA, NSW
  12. Callitris rhomboideaNSW, QLD, VIC, naturalised on New Zealand North I
  13. Callitris roei – S WA
  14. Callitris sulcata – New Caledonia
  15. Callitris verrucosaSA, VIC, WA, NSW, QLD
Wikispecies has information related to: Callitris


  1. 1 2 3 Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. Australian Plant Names Index, retrieved 8 December 2015
  3. Eckenwalder, J.E. 2009. Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press. p. 122-124
  4. Piggin, J., and Bruhl, J. J. (2010). Phylogeny reconstruction of Callitris Vent. (Cupressaceae) and its allies leads to inclusion of Actinostrobus within Callitris. Australian Systematic Botany 23: 69–93.
  5. Paull, Rosemary (2010), "Early Oligocene Callitris and Fitzroya (Cupressaceae) from Tasmania", American Journal of Botany, 97 (5): 809–820, doi:10.3732/ajb.0900374
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