Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (A.Murray bis) Parl.

Lawson cypress

Family: Cupressaceae
54º 34.993N
5º 56.179W

The tree tag number relates to the black tree-maintenance tags, usually fixed on the trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.

The name Chamaecyparis means ‘small conifer’ which seems like a joke, as many will reach 60m or more and it is said that no Lawson cypress in Britain has yet stopped growing.(1) The Lawson was introduced to the UK by Lawson’s Nursery in Edinburgh in 1854, from its native area in Oregon and NW California. It grows very well here, is tolerant of most soils and is hardy. It has given rise to more cultivars than any other tree species in cultivation. When grown from seed it tends to produce a wide range of leaf colour and growth form. The many cultivars are easily propagated from cuttings.

The base of the leaves clasp the stem and taper to a point. The male cones (pollen cones) are reddish and are typically produced in huge numbers in early spring. The young female cones are a pinkish grey colour, often produced towards the tips of the same branches that carry the pollen cones. The ripe seed cones are about the size of a pea and open to shed their seeds while still attached to the branches where they may remain for several years. The seeds germinate freely.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009 and 2010. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

reference (1): The Trees of Britain and Northern Europe by Alan Mitchell and John Wilkinson. Collins, London 1991.