Plant FinderPlant Finder Graphic
Chamaecyparis pisifera (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)
Chamaecyparis pisifera (photo courtesy of Proven Winners)

Click to Enlarge

Zone
Zones A3, 3-6, 15-17, 31-41
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Port Orford Cedar, Lawson Cedar
Cupressaceae
Evergreen, Shrubs, Trees

CHAMAECYPARIS

Intensive selection has brought these Japanese and American timber trees down in scale, so most varieties fit well into suburban gardens (some even work as container plants). Dense, richly textured foliage makes them easy to mistake for arborvitae (Thuja), but arborvitae’s leaves are entirely green, while false cypresses have white lines on the leaf undersides. Most have two distinct types of foliage: juvenile and mature. Juvenile leaves are short, needlelike, soft but often prickly; they appear on young plants and some new growth of larger trees. Mature foliage consists of tiny, scalelike, overlapping leaves. Cones are small and round.

New varieties appear each year—hundreds are on the market at any moment—and mislabeling is common, since many of these plants closely resemble one another. Numerous dwarf and variegated kinds are well suited for bonsai and rock gardens.

All except C. thyoides are native to the Pacific Rim, so they prosper in humid environments. Pinch out or cut back tips of new growth to control size and shape; don’t cut back into old, leafless wood. All types, including trees, can be sheared into hedges. All need good drainage and protection from wind.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (photo courtesy of Linda Lamb Peters)

Click to Enlarge

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Narrow, graceful, 200-ft. Western timber tree (60 ft. in gardens) with lacy, drooping foliage. Its small selections once enjoyed popularity in the landscape, but a fatal soil-borne disease, Phytophthora lateralis, quenched their popularity. A new phytophthora-resistant rootstock called the Guardian from Oregon State University has fueled a resurgence of interest in this beautiful native. The first varieties released on this rootstock are ‘Blue Surprise’ (6 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with silvery blue juvenile foliage), ‘Golden King’ (to 40 ft. tall and half as wide, with golden yellow foliage), ‘Silberstar’ (to 40 ft. tall and half as wide, with silver-blue foliage), and ‘Yvonne’ (to 20 ft. tall, 12 ft. wide, with golden-tipped green foliage). Many others will doubtless follow.

You Might Also Like...

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Narrow, graceful, 200-ft. Western timber tree (60 ft. in gardens) with lacy, drooping foliage. Its sma...

Galium odoratum

Native to Europe, North Africa, and Siberia. Attractive low spreader that brings to mind deep, shady w...

Galium

These woodland and meadow natives all have whorls of narrow leaves spaced at intervals along thin, usu...

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

Find Your Sunset Climate Zone

View Maps Learn More

Advertisement