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Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - (A.Murray.)Parl.

Common Name Lawson Cypress, Port orford cedar, Oregon Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Lawson's Cypress
Family Cupressaceae
USDA hardiness 5-7
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Usually scattered in small groves on moist slopes and canyons, often on serpentine soils, below 1500 metres. Seldom more than 50 kilometres from the coast[71, 82].
Range Western N. America - Oregon to California. Locally naturalized in S. Europe[50].
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Lawson Cypress, Port orford cedar, Oregon Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Lawson
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana Lawson Cypress, Port orford cedar, Oregon Cedar, Port Orford Cedar, Lawson


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Bloom Color: Blue, Red. Form: Columnar, Oval, Pyramidal, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to April, and the seeds ripen from September to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cupressus lawsoniana.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Ground Cover; Hedge;

Edible Uses

None known


Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The resin is a powerful diuretic[46, 61, 82].


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Other Uses

Broom  Hedge  Hedge  Resin  Wood

Plants can be grown as a tall hedge[29, 75, 200] They are very tolerant of clipping so long as this does not extend into the brown barked wood since trees cannot regenerate from this[200]. Any trimming should be done in the summer[200]. Certain dwarf forms can be used for ground cover, the cultivars 'Knowefieldensis', 'Nidiformis' and 'Tamariscifolia' have been recommended[208]. The branches have been used to make brooms[257]. Wood - very close-grained, hard, strong, durable, easily worked, light, abounding in fragrant resin, acid resistant. One of the world's finest timbers, it is widely used for flooring, fencing, making boats etc[46, 61, 82, 171]. It is now in short supply due to over-harvesting without replanting[200].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Ground cover  Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants


Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Hedge, Screen, Specimen. Succeeds in most soils and situations, but prefers a moist deep loamy soil and a sheltered position[1, 11]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Survives on dry alkaline soils[200]. Growth of trees is hardly affected by a lack of phosphate in the soil. Plants are moderately shade tolerant, especially when young[81, 200]. Plants are tolerant of atmospheric pollution according to one report[200], whilst another says that they do not do well in a polluted atmosphere[1]. A fairly wind tolerant plant, but it does not like severe maritime exposure[75]. Plants are susceptible to wind burn and recover variably[75]. This species is hardy to about -25°c[200]. A fairly long-lived tree in the wild with specimens 500 - 600 years old[229]. It is a very valuable timber tree in N. America and it is sometimes cultivated as a forestry tree in Britain, where it occasionally self-sows[1, 11]. It establishes well and grows quickly. New shoots can make 1 metre in a year but trees rarely maintain that rate and 30cm is nearer the average[185]. New growth starts very slowly in April, speeds up in June and ceases in September[185]. A very uniform species in the wild[200], in cultivation it is polymorphic and there are many named varieties[1, 185, 200]. The crushed foliage has a pungent smell[245]. Favoured by many birds for roosting, providing high cover and especially for nesting, large specimens of this tree help to attract songbirds to the garden[200]. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.


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Seed - sow March/April in a seedbed outdoors[78]. The seed is best sown in pots in a frame[K]. Seed can take 18 months to germinate. One month warm then one month cold stratification has produced good results[113]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in late spring after the last expected frosts. Cuttings in late summer or autumn in sandy soil in a cold frame[1, 11, 200]. Difficult, it may be best done in late winter to early spring[113].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Chamaecyparis nootkatensisNootka Cypress, Nootka Cypress, Yellow Cypress, Alaska CedarTree15.0 4-8 MLMHSNDM01 
Chamaecyparis obtusaJapanese cypressTree40.0 4-8 MLMHNM003
Chamaecyparis pisiferaSawara cypressTree40.0 4-8 MLMHSNM003
Chamaecyparis thyoidesWhite Cypress, Atlantic white cedar, Coast White Cedar, Southern White Cedar, White CypressTree10.0 4-9 SLMHSNDMWe01 
Santolina chamaecyparissusCotton LavenderShrub0.6 6-9 FLMNDM22 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Expert comment

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Administrator .

Apr 16 2011 12:00AM

High up at 960 feet above sea level, in the coldest part of Castlecomer plateau Carlow. Laois and Kilkenny (Ireland). A hedge of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana grew to 55 feet in 40 years. At the time of planting the surrounding area was barren of trees although the area is well wooded today. The trees have a gentle lean of 3 degrees but are perfectly formed in every way for timber, I am delighted to report that they grew well in such a cold environment, having been windswept for at least 20 years.



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