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TREES & plants

Alaska cedar

Needled foliage of Alaska cedar.

Alaska cedar in an interesting medium-sized evergreen tree with gray-green to blue-green foliage that droops from widely spaced branches. Native to moist bottomlands in the Pacific Northwest, it needs consistently moist soil. This plant is also known as false cypress.

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.

Botanical name: 
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis
All Common Names: 
Alaska cedar, Alaska-cedar, Yellow cypress, Nootka falsecypress
Family (English): 
Cypress
Family (Botanic): 
Cupressaceae
Tree or Plant Type: 
  • Tree
Foliage: 
  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)
Native Locale: 
  • North America
Landscape Uses: 
  • Specimen
Size Range: 
  • Large tree (more than 40 feet), 
  • Medium tree (25-40 feet)
Light Exposure: 
  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
Hardiness Zones: 
  • Zone 4, 
  • Zone 5 (Chicago), 
  • Zone 6, 
  • Zone 7, 
  • Zone 8
Soil Preference: 
  • Moist, well-drained soil
Season of Interest: 
  • Early winter, 
  • Mid winter, 
  • Late winter, 
  • Early spring, 
  • Mid spring, 
  • Late spring, 
  • Early summer, 
  • Mid summer, 
  • Late summer, 
  • Early fall, 
  • Mid fall, 
  • Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance: 
  • Inconspicuous
Shape or Form: 
  • Columnar, 
  • Pyramidal, 
  • Upright
Growth Rate: 
  • Moderate
More Information: 

Size and Form

30 to 45 feet high and  30 feet wide; pyramidal form with open habit

Tree & Plant Care

Does best in full sun to partial shade.
Prefers deep, moist, loamy soil in a sunny,  well-drained site. Protect from drying winter winds.
Plants benefit with a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures.
Extremely cold hardy
Tolerant of urban pollution.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious pests.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to moist bottomlands in the Pacific Northwest.

Bark color and texture 

Reddish-brown color, shedding bark.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Closely appressed, 1/ to 1/4 inches long, usually not glandular; gray-green to bluish green on top and bottom
Evergreen needles on drooping boughs; needles have an unpleasant odor when crushed.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous; male pollen cones and female flowering cones on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Round, 1/2 inch brown cones take two years to ripen.

Cultivars and their differences 

Weeping Alaska Cedar  (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ ):  25 to 30 feet high and 10 to 12 feet wide; with a weeping form.

Green Arrow Alaska Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Green Arrow'): Narrow, spire-shaped collumnar tree reaching 20 feet high and 2 feet wide; makes a stong accent in the landscape.

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis or Alaska cedar