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Macrocarpas or Lusitanicas, which is best to plant?


Both of course!
Both are fast, top grade timber in 30 odd years, and great, hot firewood. Why choose between them? Unless it snows where you live, give both a shot. Both are viable alternatives to Leyland Cypresses.

Macs, the Old Favourite.

The advantages are: Macrocarpa as a name or "brand" is well known and established in NZ and overseas as a top grade timber. Trees grow fast on coastal sand and are salt resistant. Macs grow fast and pruning helps make a good log.
Disadvantages are, it is canker prone especially older seed lines prone to fluting and uneven trunks which don't help milling. It is very frost prone on the mountains dying off below about minus 8C, and dislikes long dry spells. So it does best in cool, moist, coastal places, further south and west. Big old trees can be seen all over New Zealand. It is one of our adopted icons (see Footrot Flats) and the old-school windswept, ancient farm shelter tree is characteristic of the Otago Peninsula. Trees from modern select seed lines, carefully pruned, are awesome.

A 6-metre-pruned macrocarpa at 26 years.

Lusis, The New Favourite.

Foresters who have grown and loved a crop of Macs, also love Lusis because they perform like Super-Macs without the disadvantages. Away from the sea they leave macs behind, and though branchy, when pruned Lusitanica timber is just as good, and famous for its "blond" or light colour. Strong, dry winds and cattle are their enemies. Both will strip them bare. So fences, even their own shelter belt, are vital. Broken leaders recover better. They also prefer moisture where possible, but will handle inland valleys down to minus 18C and a bit of snow.

A wind blown Lusitanica steady in the gales for 26 years.

Other Favourites.

Arizona cypress fills the same niche in drier areas. They are better in extremes of heat, as in Mid Canterbury, which can kill off those other favourite cypresses.

Real hard core Cypress enthusiasts also grow crosses between Macs and Alaskan Cypresses: Cupressus X Ovensii, a good shaped, fast, tough timber cypress; Leyland cypress Haggerston Grey, and Leighton Green, popular for growing shelter belts inland. On a good site they are dream trees and set no seed so they cannot spread.

Also well known is Lawson Cypress, hard, scented, insect-resistant timber. Trees grow well even in hard areas with difficult weather. An Oregon native, the white, ginger-scented wood of Lawsons is always popular in rural NZ. Watch sawmillers drool openly when Lawson logs arrive.

20 years into a fifty year Lawson cycle

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