Cupressus sempervirens

Scientific Name: Cupressus sempervirens

Common Name: Cypress Tree


Origin: East Mediterranean and Iran

The cypress tree is connected to the ancient Greek myth of a male youth named Cyparissus. He was the mortal lover of Apollo—the god of healing, the arts, and light. Apollo gifted him a beautiful tamed stag but when hunting in the woods one day, Cyparissus threw a spear that accidentally killed the stag. Cyparissus’ grief was so intense that he asked Apollo to allow his tears to fall forever. Apollo transformed him into a cypress tree, a symbol of mourning, which has tears of sap that drip down the trunk. This is just one of many sad stories related to same sex love that was recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a collection of stories about transformation. The cypress tree, named after Cyparissus, has associations with sadness, mourning and loss. It has also inspired many works of art through the centuries.

Apollo is represented in the shield and crest of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, which can be found on the south Embankment gates of Chelsea Physic Garden.

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