Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Port Orford cedar, Lawson false cypress, Lawson's false cypress

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Port orford cedar)
Large evergreen tree with enlarged base, narrow, pointed, spirelike crown, and horizontal or drooping branches. In the wild, this species can grow to 180 ft. or higher. Under landscape conditions, the height is reduced by at least half. The pyramidal evergreen has a massive, buttressed trunk and short ascending branches. Branchets are frond-like and flattened; deep-green foliage is lacy and fern-like. The bark is silvery brown to reddish brown and divided into rounded ridges by deep furrows.

Port Orford Cedar is adapted to the humid climate of the Pacific Coast with its wet winters and frequent summer fog. Logs of the aromatic wood are exported to Japan for woodenware and toys and for construction of shrines and temples; a special use is for arrow shafts. Many horticultural varieties are grown as ornamentals and shade trees, especially in European countries with moist climates. Varieties include columnar, drooping, and dwarf forms and others with foliage of varying shades, ranging from silvery or steel-blue to bright green, and yellowish. The names honor Port Orford, Oregon, located in the center of the range, and Peter Lawson and his sons, Scottish nurserymen who introduced this species into cultivation in 1854.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf: Green
Size Class: 72-100 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr


Native Distribution: Shasta, Humboldt, Del Norte & Siskiyou Cos., CA to w. OR
Native Habitat: Moist slopes & canyons below 4800 ft.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Well-drained, sandy loam.
Conditions Comments: This species thrives in a cool, moist atmosphere where it is protected from drying winds. Too moist a site, however, can encourage a fungus problem. Otherwise the species is relatively free of serious disease or insect problems. The leaves of seedlings and juvenile plants are distinctly different from those of adult trees, being neede-like or awl-shaped.

Last Update: 2015-11-16