Northwest Conifers


Port Orford Cedar – Chamaecyparis lawsoniana

Leaves: Small, flat scales, often with a white X pattern below. The scales are smaller than those of other native cedars.


Note X pattern on lower surface

Cones: Round and woody, similar to Alaska cedar and cypress cones.


Bark: Brown with flat ridges and furrows. Thick on old trees.


Where it grows: Along the Pacific Coast from Coos Bay, Oregon to the Klamath River in California, extending to 5000 ft. in the Siskiyous.

Port Orford cedar at Hoyt Arboretum


USGS Distribution Map

Locations: At the Oregon Caves National Monument on the Big Tree Trail (42.10124 -123.40306). You can find several plantings in Portland's Forest Park, for example at the top of the Dogwood trail (45 32.397 -122 43.967) and at miles 14.3 and 16.6 on the Wildwood Trail.

Port Orford cedar at Hoyt Arboretum

Uses: Similar to western red cedar for decking and fencing. However, limited supply and popularity in Japan contribute to high prices. Cultivars are popular ornamentals.

Names: The scientific name honors Peter Lawson, who first introduced Port Orford cedar cultivars. Other common names: white cedar, Oregon cedar.

Note that Port Orford Cedar is not a true cedar. That is, its genus is not Cedrus, the genus of the true cedars from the middle-east.

© 2012 Ken Denniston