Plant Common Name
Lawson's Falsecypress, Port Orfordcedar
Elegant, flattened, fan-like sprays of foliage clothe the drooping branches of this noble evergreen conifer from the far western United States. In the wild it forms a majestic conical tree with a massive buttressed trunk and thick shredding silver-brown to red-brown bark. In gardens it is mostly known by its numerous cultivars, which come in many shapes, sizes, and colors.
The tiny, scale-like, green to blue-green leaves clasp and overlap along flexuous branchlets, forming ferny growths. The drooping sprays of foliage have white streaks underneath. Bruised leaves emit a pungent resinous odor. In summer the branches bear small, round, blue-green cones with shield-like scales. The cones ripen to orange-brown in fall, the scales splitting outwards to expel seeds.
Numerous cultivars of Lawson cypress are available. Most are compact and slow growing, suiting them for a wide variety of garden uses. Selection 'Alumii' has blue-green foliage and is tall but narrow; 'Lutea' and 'Lane' are medium-sized, columnar trees with gold foliage; and 'Gnome', 'Nana', 'Lutea Nana' and 'Minima' are dwarf.
Grow Lawson's falsecypress in full to partial sun and moist well-drained soil. It will fail in soggy or clay soil. It tolerates cold winters and dislikes hot parched conditions. Full-sized Lawson cypress is striking as a specimen in a broad lawn, or grouped as a grove or hedge. Cultivars work well in many settings including foundation plantings, shrub borders, and containers. This tree also makes a wonderful bonsai plant.
AHS Heat Zone
8 - 1
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 8
A3, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17
Needled or Scaled Evergreen
Full Sun, Partial Sun
40'-65' / 12.2m - 19.8m (60)
10'-20' / 3.0m - 6.1m
Northwestern United States, California
Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Rock Garden / Wall, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier
Sharp or Has Thorns