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Tree Campus: Lawson Cypress

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Lawson Cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (CUPRESSACEAE)



Oregon, N.W. California



"As a food source, Port-Orford-cedar is of little importance to wildlife and livestock. Seedlings and saplings within regenerating stands show little browsing damage.

Sometime prior to 1923, root rot spread within hundreds of nurseries, ornamentals, and windbreaks in the Pacific Northwest north of the natural range of Port-Orford-cedar and attacked only Port-Orford-cedar . In 1952 the disease was introduced into the natural range of Port-Orford-cedar, apparently from infected soil of transplanted ornamentals. The disease has now spread throughout much of the range of Port-Orford-cedar. The fungus is carried through water-borne spores transported primarily by natural water flow or in mud carried by animals or machinery. Thus spread of the disease has been greatly accelerated by road construction and maintenance, logging, and house building. In the 1970's mortality of old-growth trees was about 10 million board feet annually and has gradually decreased to about 5 million board feet annually, largely due to the depletion of the resource." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Port-Orford-cedar is a commercially important ornamental tree in Europe. Numerous cultivars exist. It was first cultivated in 1854. Within the natural range of Port-Orford-cedar, branches are collected for use in florist's greens. This activity is often regulated by permits. Native Americans used Port-Orford-cedar wood for house planks, canoes, utensils, and arrows, and wove the shredded bark into clothing." [1]



"Since its discovery by European settlers in the 1850's, Port-Orford-cedar wood has been used in manufacturing many diverse products. Early use was primarily as lumber for house and ship building, timbers for mines, and in the manufacture of furniture. Port-Orford-cedar has been used in making a variety of products including airplanes, arrow shafts, boats, cabinets, crates, decking, doors, handles, hangers, lawn furniture, mouldings, plywood, telephone poles, screens, shelves, siding, stools, tables, toys, and yardsticks. During the 1920's and 1930's production increased dramatically because of two specialty industries: the manufacture of battery separators and venetian blinds. Following World War II, substitute materials were found for these products. Subsequently domestic use almost disappeared, and today remains almost nonexistent.

Today nearly all harvested Port-Orford-cedar is exported to Japan. Port-Orford-cedar is very similar to hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa) wood, which is used in traditional Japanese house and temple construction. On federal timber sales, Japanese trading companies sometimes purchase stumpage on bid after examining individual trees. The wood is regarded so highly as a hinoki substitute that trees are felled with great care; sometimes cables are used to control the fall. Because the supply of hinoki is very limited, Port-Orford-cedar sells for a premium price as a hinoki substitute. Logs exported from the Powers Ranger District, Oregon, in 1981 sold for an average of $2,166 per thousand board feet." [1]



[1] Uchytil, Ronald J. 1990. Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

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