A Dictionary of the English Language
                        A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson
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Cypress-tree

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 528, 529

View Scan · View Transcription · from pages 528, 529

Cypress-tree. [cypressius, Latin.]

Its leaves are squamose and flat: the male flowers, which are likewise squamose, grow at remote distances from the fruit on the same tree. The fruit is of a spherical form, and is composed of many woody tubercles, in which are contained hard angular seeds. Miller.

The cypress is a tall strait tree, produced with great difficulty. Its fruit is of no use: its leaves are bitter, and the very smell and shade of it are dangerous. Hence the Romans looked upon it to be a fatal tree, and made use of it at funerals, and in mournful ceremonies. The wood of the cypress-tree is always green, very heavy, of a good smell, and never either rots or is worm eaten. It is distinguished into male and female: the branches of the male are, as it were, horizontal; and those of the female are upright, which is therefore generally sued for palissades of gardens, and to make pyramids. The fruit is round, of an olive colour, and as large as nuts when they are ripe, and it grows in separate places. The Latins call it conus, because of its figure. This fruit is composed of a kind of scales, in the clefts of which are hidden little seeds, flat and angular. This tree is common on mount Libanus. Calmet.

In ivory coffers I have stufft my crowns;
In cypress chests my arras counterpanes.
Shakespeare.

He taketh the cypress and the oak, which he strengtheneth for himself among the trees of the forest. Is. xiiv. 14.

Poplars and alders ever quivering play'd,
And nodding cypress form'd a fragrant shade.
Pope's Odyss.

  1. Being anciently used in funerals, it is the emblem of mourning.

                            Poison be their drink,
    Their sweetest shade a grove of cypress trees.
    Shak. Hen. VI.

Sources: Calmet, Antoine Augustin (10) · Shakespeare's Henry VI, Part 2 (49) · The Bible - Isaiah (16) · Miller, Philip (58) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew (71)

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Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Cypress-tree." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: June 24, 2013. http://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/?p=14235.


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