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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Lawson falsecypress

The lawson falsecypress (also called the Port Orford Cedar) is a beautiful conifer native to the pacific northwest. The main branches are upright and acceding with weeping tips giving the tree a soft fine textured appearance.  Branching all the way to the ground, it forms a perfectly symmetrical cone shaped tree. Generally growing to about 50' they can be much larger in their native habitat. However, there are so many cultivars that they are look a bit different. Some have a bluish cast, others greenish, some with thinner branch sprays, and of course several with juvenile foliage.




This one is on Corralitos Rd near the market. I have no idea what cultivar this is but I love it.



This one below is one of my favorites, no clue as to what cultivar it is.



Foliage is scale like, tiny leaves wrapping around the stems, one on each side. You can tell if you pull the end off the small branch and see that the leaf tips are opposite one another. They also have a characteristic white X's on the branchlets.



The tree is often described as having a soft fern like appearance due to the small leaves and elongated branches. Branching sprays are flattened like most in the genus and elongated like a fern frond.



One very interesting feature of the leaves is they have translucent glands. If you hold it up to the sun you can see light coming through the glands. 

Cones are small, 1/4" - 1/3" in diameter. Purplish color until ripening brown. Opening when mature to release seeds. The scales are peltate like others in this family (cupressaceae) and when closed have a soccer ball appearance with the edges fused together.






Bark is reddish brown and stringy, and can be quite thick. Very attractive on older trees.



Other cultivars I have seen, not locally.

'Bloomhill Gold'



'Pembry Blue'



'Minima Aurea'



'Aurea Densa'




Misidentification:
Other members of the cupressaceae. Anything with scale like leaves are hard to identify. Look for the flattened sprays of foliage and the small cones that are woody at maturity. Then get a short section of the sprays and hold them up to the light looking for the glands. However, if you encounter one of the several  hundred cultivars you might be stumped.

Location:
Aptos
Clubhouse Dr and Murray

Corralitos
Corralitos Rd. between Freedom Blvd and Corralitos Market.

Santa Cruz
Some really nice old ones in the cemetery at Harvey West Park.

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