Lawson’s Cypress belongs to that section
of Conifers which includes the Junipers, and is
a representative of the North American sylva.
It is a native of Southwest Oregon to Northwest
California, where it is believed to have been
first discovered by Jeffrey, about 1852. In the
United States it is known as the Port Orford Cypress.
In its native home the Lawson Cypress attains
a height of between one hundred and twenty and
one hundred and fifty feet, occasionally reaching
two hundred feet, with a base circumference of
forty feet. The thick brown bark splits into rounded
scaly ridges. The short horizontal branches divide
a good deal towards their leafy extremities, which
are curved, and commonly drooping.
The leaves are little evergreen scales, which
overlap, and being closely pressed to the branchlet,
completely clothe and hide it. They are bright
green in colour, and endure for three or four
The male flowers are produced at the tips of the
short branchlets, formed a year earlier. They
are of cylindrical form, crimson in colour, and
each stamen bears from two to six anther-cells.
The small cones are more or less globular, but
instead of a large number of spirally arranged
overlapping scales, as in the Pines and Firs,
here there are only eight, whose edges at first
join to form a box. When the “cone”
is ripe these scales separate, to allow the escape
of the seeds.
The Lawson Cypress produces a valuable wood, close-grained
and strong, yet light. It is considered one of
the most important timber trees of North America;
but in this country it has been planted solely
with a view to its ornamental qualities. Its perfect
hardiness and its freedom of growth may, with
longer experience, lead to its being regarded
as a timber producer here also.
The Common Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens) of
the Mediterranean region and the East has been
cultivated in this country for over three hundred
and fifty years, but it is only hardy in the south
and the west.