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Port Orford Cedar Back to Plant Page
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

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About Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) Chamaecyparis lawsoniana is a tree in the family Cupressaceae, known by the name Lawson's Cypress in the horticultural trade, or Port Orford Cedar in its native range (although not a true cedar). C. lawsoniana is native to the southwest of Oregon and the far northwest of California, occurring from sea level up to 1,500 meter (4,900 feet) altitude in mountain valleys, often along streams. It is a large evergreen coniferous tree, regularly reaching 50-70 meter (200 feet) tall, with feathery foliage in flat sprays, usually somewhat waxy pale blue-green in colour. The leaves are scale-like, 3-5 millimeter long, with narrow white markings on the underside, and produced on somewhat flattened shoots. The seed cones are globose, 7-14 millimeter diameter, with 6-10 scales, green at first, maturing brown in early fall, 6-8 months after pollination. The male cones are 3-4 millimeter long, dark red, turning brown after pollen release in early spring. The bark is reddish-brown, and fibrous to scaly in vertical strips. This tree is valued for its wood and is farmed for that purpose. Due to its ultimate size it is not often used in residential gardens.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
40 - 229.7 ft (12.2 - 70 m)

Max. Width
40 ft (12.2 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate


Flower Color
Blue, Red, Brown

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Mountain valleys, often near streams

Part Shade

Elevation ?
19' - 14028'

Annual Precip. ?
10.9" - 156.3"

Summer Precip. ?
0.23" - 6.04"

Coldest Month ?
10.4° F - 54.4° F

Hottest Month ?
33.7° F - 75.1° F

Humidity ?
0.23 vpd - 24.22 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soil or sandy and clay loams and rocky ridges

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Low, Moderate - High
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Deep Organic

Dead branches may be pruned, but do not cut into living wood. Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Pest Control
In the wild, the species is seriously threatened by a root disease caused by the introduced oomycete pathogen, Phytophthora lateralis. It is treated by fungicide.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment; stratification may improve germination (USDA Forest Service 1974).

Common uses
Deer Resistant

Nursery Availability
Rarely Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Cupressus lawsoniana

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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