8. Lawson Cypress

(Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

Other Common Name: Port Orford Cedar

Family: Cupressaceae

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Lawson Cypress of horticulture is the Port Orford Cedar of forestry. Rainier Vista's west side, south of Stevens Way, has more than a dozen specimens. Native to southwest Oregon and adjacent California, this species grows large, yielding excellent wood. It occurs from sea level up to 4,900 feet (1,500 meters) in elevation in mountain valleys and often along streams.  It has been widely planted as an ornamental because in cultivation it shows astonishing variation: no conifer varies more in color, form and foliage. Only the wood and fragrance is constant. Their round, pea-size cones contain seeds that could give rise to yellow, bright green, baby blue or other offspring. Root-rot disease now kills Lawson Cypresses so often that nurseries stock few varieties.

The bark is fibrous to scaly in vertical strips and reddish-brown. The foliage is fern-like, resembling the native cedars to this region. Lawson Cypress wood is light and durable, and is used to construct coffins, as well as shrines and temples. The grain of the wood is straight, making it preferred for manufacturing arrow shafts. The wood was once used for constructing aircraft. 

[Detailed photo of leaves and cones of Lawson Cypress]

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