Port Orford White-Cedar

Old-growth Lawson's Cypress Chamaecyparis lawsoniana at Blue Lake trail, Fish Lake, California
Attribution: By US Forest Service Dorena Genetic Resource Center - http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/dorena/photos/poc/forest-stands/view/PA00014562/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5295926

Latin (group) name: Chamaecyparis
Latin (specific) name: Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana (A. Murray) Parlatore
Average max height: 80' to 200'
Average diameter: 3' to 12'
Associated state: none
Category: American Woods
The Softwoods - Conifers

The Tree

A very beautiful evergreen tree, the Port Orford White-Cedar is a large tree, 80 to 200 feet high and 3 to 10 or 12 feet in diameter. The younger trees have short, feathery, weeping branchlets of deep yellowish-green and a dense, pyramidal, narrow rounded crown. The branches are pendulous, lacy and droop conspicuously. The short, flat leaves are scale-like and overlap one another, are soft, closely pressed to the twigs and like other cedars have a pleasant aromatic odor. The cones first develop as small reddish-brown, soft berries, then mature in a cone of dark russet-brown, having shield-shaped, overlapping scales. The trunk is clear of branches 80 to 100 feet from the ground. The bark is five to eight inches thick at the base of mature trees and becomes thinner as the well-shaped trunk reaches for the sky. It is fibrous, dividing into deep narrow, rather loose ridges and separating into long strips or thin shreds of a deep reddish-brown. The tallest Port Orford Cedar is at Coos Bay, Oregon, and is about ten feet in diameter. Port Orford White-Cedar is also locally known as Lawson’s Cypress in honor of Sir Charles Lawson, an eminent economist of Scotland for whom the classical name “lawsoniana” was given this species.

port orford white-cedar female cones
White-Cedar Female Cones
port orford white-cedar foliage
Port Orford White-Cedar Foliage
port orford white-cedar male pollen cones
Port Orford White-Cedar Male Pollen Cones

Common Names in Use

  • Port Orford Cedar (Oreg., Calif., and trade)
  • Ginger Pine (Calif.)
  • Lawson’s Cypress (Calif., Oreg.)
  • Oregon Cedar (Oreg., Calif.)
  • Port Orford (White) Cedar (trade)
  • White Cedar (Oreg., Calif.)

Growth Range

The growth range of Port Orford White-Cedar extends along the Pacific Coast from Coos Bay in Oregon southward to the Mad River in Humbolt County, California. It is found on the western mountain slopes of the Coast Range up to 5,000 feet elevation.

The Wood

The heartwood of Port Orford White-Cedar is a pale tan, yellowish-white to pale yellowish-brown with a narrow, nearly white to yellowish-white sapwood. It is light in weight, stiff, durable, fine and has an even straight grain but coarse texture. It has a characteristic pungent, ginger like odor when freshly cut and a bitter, somewhat spicy taste. It has a volatile oil and mill workers are sometimes subjected to kidney disorders from inhaling the strong vapors in sawing operations. This wood is easily worked With tools, takes a good polish and holds paint well.


It is said Port Orford White-Cedar is the most satisfactory wood for storage battery separators, and a large quantity of the best quality wood is used for this purpose. It is also used for “moth-proof” chests and closet linings, sash and doors, flooring, interior finish, furniture, boat construction, venetian blinds, spools, sporting and athletic goods.


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

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Page last modified on Sunday July 24, 2022 17:43:30 PDT by admin.