Monday, February 14, 2011

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Port Orford Cedar

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana: Chamaecyparis from the Greek chamae, "dwarf, low-growing, or growing on the ground" and kyparissos, "cypress," meaning "dwarf or ground cypress;" lawsoniana named after Charles Lawson (1794-1873), since 1821 the head of Peter Lawson and Son Nursery in Edinburgh, Scotland, a nursery founded in 1770 by his father Peter Lawson. The Lawson cypress was first discovered near Port Orford in Oregon and introduced into cultivation in 1854 by collectors working for the Lawson and Son nursery who sent seeds back to Scotland.

Also known as Lawson's Cypress.

Evergreen native to coastal Oregon and the California coastal ranges. Moderate growth rate to 60' in cultivation, 200' in habitat with 30+' spread, developing a dense pyramidal or columnar shape with branching often to the ground.


Lacy, drooping, flat foliage sprays are variable blue-green with minute flattish scalelike leaves, soft to the touch with short blunt points.


Insignificant reddish or brown male flowers appear a swollen bulbs at leaf tips an dshed pollen in spring. Tiny green female flowers form berrylike, reddish brown, 3/8" long, oval cones among the foliage, maturing in fall of the first season, when the 8 wide flat scales open exposing the center portion when ripe.


Bark is thin, brown, becoming gray with age, with irregular shallow seams and flat, shallow ridges , frequent diagonal crossings, peeling in narrow, flat, vertical strips.


Resinous substance in wood is toxic to termites, making this a valuable timber tree. Originally used for uses as diverse as shipbuilding and match sticks, it is now the most valuable wood harvested in western North America, thanks to past overexploitation. Longevity estimated at 200 years in cultivation and up to 600 years in habitat.

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