Skip to content

Historic Cemetery Symbols: What do Cypress Trees Mean?

Cypress Trees in Cemeteries

See that tall, skinny evergreen tree on the left in the photo below? That’s a cypress tree. If you are interested in historic graveyards, then you should leaarn to be on the lookout for these!

Cemetery with cypress tree (photo by Tui Snider)
Cemetery with cypress tree (photo by Tui Snider)

Cypress Trees: easy to ID & helpful for finding your way!

Not only are historic cemetery symbols featured on headstones, certain trees have symbolic meanings, too.

Even if you don’t think you are good at identifying plants, there is at least one tree that you really should become familiar with: the cypress tree.

And lucky for us, it’s quite easy to recognize (as is the Willow Tree, if you recall!) You don’t need to be a botanist. Just keep an eye out for a tall, thin evergreen tree, like the ones you see in the photos on this post.

Now, if you spend any time at all exploring historic country graveyards, then you know they can be extremely hard to find, especially the first time you visit. Even in this day and age with our wonderful GPS gizmos and the almighty Google Maps, many graveyards lack an actual address.

I’ve even had my GPS say, “You have reached your destination,” and by “destination” the GPS must have meant “the middle of nowhere.”

So when you are out trying to find your way to a historic graveyard, keep an eye out for cypress trees. As an example, my husband, Larry, and I had a heck of a time finding the grave for Douglas the Confederate Camel. (But really, how often do you find a military grave for an animal?) Luckily, we spotted some cypress trees and that led us to our goal.

Headstone with cypress trees in the background (photo by Tui Snider)
Headstone with cypress trees in the background (photo by Tui Snider)

What Cypress Trees Represent

So, why are cypress trees associated with cemeteries? For starters, it’s believed that the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus was made, in part, from cypress wood, so the cypress tree is associated with self-sacrifice. Since it is also a very long-lived tree, it is a reminder of eternity. Many caskets have been made from cypress wood, as well.

And, since it seems as if “all roads lead to ancient Greece” when researching historic cemetery symbols, I must add that the ancient Greeks used to put the ashes of soldiers who died in battle inside urns made from cypress wood. (For further reading, check out this wonderful article over at The Art of Mourning website. Lots of great info there!)

Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism:

I am currently writing a field guide to historic cemetery symbolism. Each Tuesday, I share a small snippet from my upcoming book. It’s my goal to create a handy-dandy pocket guide for taphophiles, genealogists, ghost hunters, and anyone else interested in the historic graveyard symbols that have become forgotten over the years.

Which symbols are you curious about?

Let me know in the comments if there is a certain symbol that you are curious about. Also, if you would like to know when the cemetery symbolism guide is available for purchase, scroll down and sign up for my newsletter! I look forward to hearing from you!

Want to read more like this?

To read about more weird, offbeat, and overlooked places, check out my best-selling travel guide: 
UNEXPECTED TEXAS: Your Guide to Offbeat & Overlooked History, Day Trips & Fun Things to do near Dallas & Fort Worth

For ghost hunting hot spots, check out my best-selling travel guide to haunted places: 
PARANORMAL TEXAS: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places near Dallas & Fort Worth

For a strange-but-true tale of Texas history, check out this bizarre piece of West Texas history: 
The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber



Hey, you! Want to come along for the ride?

No matter where you live in the galaxy, Tui's books can take you on a FUN adventure!
No matter where you live in the galaxy, Tui Snider’s books can take you on a FUN adventure!

FREE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER: For updates on my offbeat travels, books, & other fun stuff (such as postcards from the road!) subscribe to my newsletter using the form below. Each week, I’ll let you know the Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week, who Teal Gray & I are interviewing on our show that night, and any other fun or interesting news. You can also mix & mingle with me by clicking this link & “liking” my Facebook Author Page:

Tui Snider
Follow me:
Published inCemeteries & SymbolismHistoric Cemeteries


  1. Marie Marie

    Check out Circular Congregational Church in Charleston, SC for some historic grave markers.

    • Tui Snider Tui Snider

      Thank you, Marie! I love getting tips for places to explore! I will check that out. :D ~Tui

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.