What is the Difference Between Cypress and Pine

The main difference between cypress and pine is that cypress is the common name for the trees and shrubs of northern temperate regions that belong to the genus Cupressus under the family Cupressaceae whereas pine is any coniferous tree in the genus Pinus under the family Pinaceae. Furthermore, cypress contains flattened shoots bearing small, scale-like leaves while pine contains clusters of long, needle-like leaves. 

Cypress and pine are two genera of coniferous, evergreen, monoecious or sub-dioecious plants important in ornaments and as timber.  Cypress produces small cones while pine produces comparatively large cones.  

Key Areas Covered 

1. What is Cypress
     – Taxonomy, Anatomical Features, Importance
2. What is Pine
     – Taxonomy, Anatomical Features, Importance
3. What are the Similarities Between Cypress and Pine
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Cypress and Pine
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Cones, Conifers, Cypress, Evergreen, Leaves, Pine 

Difference Between Cypress and Pine - Comparison Summary

What is Cypress 

Cypress is any coniferous, evergreen tree or shrub that belongs to the genus Cupressus under the family Cupressaceae. Generally, it is native to the temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. Also, it has grown in a variety of forms, colours, and sizes in parks and gardens worldwide. Usually, cypress can grow up to 5-40 m in height. On the other hand, it has scale-like leaves, 2-6 mm long. These leaves persist for 3 to 5 years. However, due to the darkness of the leaves, they are considered as a symbol of mourning. 

Cypress vs Pine

Figure 1: Cypress

Furthermore, cypress produces small cones, which are 8-40 mm long during its sexual reproduction. Generally, these cones are ovoid or globose-shaped. They mature 18-24 months after pollination. These cones bear small seeds, which are 4-7 mm long. Moreover, these seeds contain two, narrow wings. Interestingly, many of the cypress species are adapted to forest fires. Therefore, these trees can hold their seeds inside cones for many years until the parent tree is destroyed by a fire. After that, seeds are spread around the burnt ground and start to germinate. 

What is Pine 

Pine is another coniferous, evergreen trees of the genus Pinus under the family Pinaceae. Around 126 species of pine have been identified so far. Generally, pine is native to the Northern hemisphere. Some pine species grow up to 80 m tall. Significantly, pines are long-lived trees. Typically, they can reach up to 100-1000 years. Also, the bark of most of the pines is thick and scaly. Their branches produce pseudo-whorls, appearing like rings of branches arising at a single point. Actually, they are very tight spirals.

Difference Between Cypress and Pine

Figure 2: Pine

Moreover, the four types of leaves found in pine are the adult leaves, scale leaves, juvenile leaves, and seed leaves. Adult leaves are needle-like, and they appear in clusters. Scale leaves are small and brown. They are not photosynthetic and are similar to bud scales. On the other hand, juvenile leaves occur immediately after the seedling. Furthermore, seed leaves are the cotyledons. Most pines are monoecious, bearing both male and female cones on the same tree. Generally, male cones are small and 1-5 cm long while female cones are 3-60 cm long.  

Similarities Between Cypress and Pine 

  • Cypress and pine are two types of coniferous trees. 
  • Both are gymnosperms. 
  • Also, both belong to the class Pinopsida. 
  • Besides, both are native to the northern hemisphere.  
  • They are evergreen and can be either monoecious or sub-dioecious. 
  • Both have scale-like leaves. 
  • Moreover, they produce male and female cones, producing gametes for sexual reproduction. 
  • They have an ornamental value and are important as timber. 

Difference Between Cypress and Pine 


Cypress refers to an evergreen coniferous tree with small rounded woody cones and flattened shoots bearing small scale-like leaves while pine refers to an evergreen coniferous tree which has clusters of long needle-shaped leaves and many kinds of it are grown for the soft timber, which is widely used for furniture and pulp, or for tar and turpentine. Thus, this is the main difference between cypress and pine.


Moreover, Cypress belongs to the family Cupressaceae while pine belongs to the family Pinaceae. 


Also, Cypress belongs to the genus Cupressus while pine belongs to the genus Pinus. 

Trees or Shrubs 

While Cypress can be trees or shrubs, pine is a tree. Hence, this is another difference between cypress and pine.


Moreover, Cypress can grow up to 5-40 m while pine can grow up to 15-45 m. 


The structure of their leaves is an easily identifiable difference between cypress and pine. Cypress contains flattened shoots bearing small, scale-like leaves while pine contains clusters of long, needle-like leaves.  

Size of the Cones 

Furthermore, cypress produces small cones while pine produces comparatively large cones.  

Open or Closed Cones 

Additionally, cypress produces closed cones while pine produces open cones. Thus, this is also a difference between cypress and pine.


Cypress is a group of trees and shrubs making the genus Cupressus under the family Cupressaceae. Its leaves are small, scale-like and found in flattened shoots. Significantly, it produces closed cones. On the other hand, pine is another tree of the genus Pinus under the family Pinaceae. Also, it contains leaves which are long and needle-like. Both cypress and pine are coniferous, evergreen trees. However, the main difference between cypress and pine is their anatomical features and taxonomy. 


1. Wilson, Mary. “Pine, Spruce or Fir: Getting to Know Michigan Evergreen Trees.” MSU Extension, Michigan State University, 3 Oct. 2018, Available Here.
2. “Cypress.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 24 Apr. 2019, Available Here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “cypress-tree-cones-needles-trees-1585349” By Eirena (Pixabay License) via Pixabay
2. “pine-cones-pine-tree-pine-tree-1147855” By imaginaryhuman (Pixabay License) via Pixabay

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things. She has a keen interest in writing articles regarding science.

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