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Sargent Cypress woodlands are a recognized plant community, which occur in coastal portions of Mendocino, Sonoma, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties as well as portions of the San Francisco Bay region. The Cedars in Sonoma County is an example of a Sargent Cypress coastal site. In more protected inland locales this woodland type may extend into a riparian zone where summer fogs persist. Grey Pine (Pinus sabiniana) may occur with Sargent Cypress in northern California. Leather Oak (Quercus durata) is often a dominant shrub in Sargent cypress woodland, also having ultramafic affinity.
Sargent cypress typically attains a height of ten to twenty meters. Its trunk bark is fibrous, thick, gray or dark brown to almost black. The young shoots are four-sided and cylindric and measure 1.5 to 2.0 mm in diameter. Leaves are dull, dusty green to grayish green. Pollen cones are three to four mm long and two mm in diameter. Spheric shaped seed cones are 15 to 30 mm in size, and display rough-surfaces; these seed cones are dull brown to gray, with six to ten scales having inconspicuous projections. The dark brown seeds are five to six mm long and generally glaucous.