Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, commonly known as the Port Orford Cedar or Lawson's cypress, is a tall, narrow-pyramidal, scaly-leaved, evergreen conifer with short spreading branches and flattened twigs. It is the tallest member of the cypress family. In its native habitat, it will grow over time to 110-175' (sometimes to 200' or more) tall and to 4-6' in diameter, but usually much shorter (to 40-60' tall) in cultivation. This tree has a very small native range; primarily being found on seaward slopes in a coastal belt along Pacific Coast mountain ranges from Coos Bay in southwestern Oregon to the Klamath River in northwestern California, with isolated additional populations in northern California near the Trinity Mountains and Mount Shasta. It sometimes grows in pure stands, but also is found growing with western red cedar, grand fir, western hemlock and Sikta spruce. Tiny, scale-like, bright green to blue green leaves (to 1/16" long) with silver marks beneath are pressed against the branchlets. Spherical female cones (1/4 to 3/8" diameter) are green maturing to brown. Oblong male cones are smaller, reddish-brown and oblong. Thick, silvery-brown to reddish-brown bark is furrowed and ridged. Wood is hard and durable. Although the supply is limited, lumber from this tree is in great demand. Charles Lawson (1794-1873) was a Scottish nurseryman. It was named the Port Orford cedar in recognition of the discovery of this tree in 1854 near the area now occupied by the town of Port Orford, Oregon. Hardy in zones 5-8.
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year.
- Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours.
- Put the mixture in a ziplock bag.
- Put the bag in the refrigerator and leave it there for 4 weeks.
- The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot.
- Sow the seeds on the soil.
- Cover the seeds with a layer of soil.
- Water the soil so that it is moist but not wet. The seeds begin to germinate in a few weeks.
- When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.