Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (Murr.) Parl.

Lawson's Cypress

Narrowly conical to columnar tree to 30 m or more tall, sometimes strongly branched near the base. but generally much smaller in cultivation. Extremely variable with numerous cultivars most of which arose as seedling selections in Europe, mostly the Netherlands, although a few have originated in New Zealand. Bark fibrous, fissured, spongy on older trees. Branches more or less weeping and, on older trees, arching into the ground where they take root. Branchlets flattened and pendulous, smelling of parsley when crushed. Leaves in opposite pairs with pointed incurved tips and glands in the centre, lateral pairs much longer than facial, upper side of branchlets blue-green (except in some cultivars), underside with whitish markings between the leaves. Male cones terminal on weak shoots, ovoid, about 2 mm broad, abundant, scales black, edged with white and with prominent dark red pollen sacs. Female cones about 7 mm wide, purplish-brown, persistent for a few months after seed shed; scales 7-8, blue-black, edged white when young, becoming wrinkled, each with a central blunt point. Seeds 2-4 or sometimes 5, glossy brown, warty and broadly winged.

Grows naturally from coastal shorelines to mountain slopes. Widely cultivated but best suited to cool climates such as Tasmania where the tall columnar mature habit is a prominent lanscape feature in many areas. The National Herbarium of Victoria holds specimens of many cultivars collected at Nobelius Nursery, Emerald in 1943 and Hodgins Nursery, Essendon in 1942.


In Australia at Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens near Adelaide, and Mt Tomah Botanic Gardens near Sydney; internationally at the Bedgebury National Pinetum, Kent and Leicester University Botanic Garden in the United Kingdom.

The timber is used for general building and construction work.

Parsley smell of foliage when crushed; lateral leaf pairs incurved, much larger than facial pairs, gland on back of leaves conspicuous; indistinct white markings at leaf edges; male cones with dark red pollen sacs; male and female cones blackish; cf. C. obtusa. The white markings below are sometimes `Y' shaped as in C. obtusa but leaves pointed, not stubby and blunt.

SA: Mt Gambier ('Barn Palais', Nelson Rd). NSW: Bowral (Public School); Guyra (Church of St Columba); Jenolan (Caves); Mt Tomah (Botanic Gds, Brunet Garden); Leura ('Everglades'); Mt Wilson ('Yengo' ptd c. 1887, widely planted elsewhere in the Blue Mts); Orange (Cook Park). ACT: Northbourne Ave (ABC Studios); Yarralumla Nsy. VIC: Beechworth (Mayday Hospital, 2 trees c. 20 m tall, multi-stemmed specimen trees in front of main entrance, lower branches arching down and rooted in ground); Creswick (Forestry School Drive); Daylesford (Bot. Gdn); Dandenongs (Mt Dandenong Arboretum; Hamer Arboretum, ptd 1975; 'Pirianda'); Emerald (Nobelius Heritage Nursery c. 13 m tall); Erica (Township); Fernshaw (Reserve, 3 trees, 1 20 m tall); Hamilton (Bot. Gds); Kyneton (Bot. Gds); Macedon ('Forest Glades'); Marysville (near bridge); Monbulk (by football ground &Post Office); Narbethong ('Hermitage', 40.5 m tall in 1994 in gully, 'St Fillans', 27 m tall in 1994); Yackandandah (cemetery). TAS: Deloraine (Meander River Reserve); Hobart (Queens Domain; Royal Tasmanian Bot. Gds entrance); Launceston (Cataract Gorge; City Park).




Golden Showers' Compact with drooping branch tips, yellow stems and yellow variegated foliage. Originating from the USA and introduced D.W. Hatch, Chantry Nsy, Devon, UK, 1980.



DWARF, COMPACT, BROADLY CONICAL, LEAVES YELLOW 'Aurea Densa' Dwarf, slow-growing, compact, more or less conical, less than 1 m tall, yellow-leaved. W.H. Rogers &Son, Red Lodge Nsy, Eastleigh, England.







Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Cupressaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Albovariegata'

Dwarf, branch tips white, leaves white-spotted. J. Veitch, Coombe Wood Nsy, London, England c. 1880.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Alumigold'

Similar to 'Alumii' but more dense and with the young growth yellow. Sport of 'Alumii'.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Alumii'

Narrow conical to more than 10 m tall, leaves waxy blue. Frequently mis-spelt 'Allumii'. Origin unknown, possibly R. Smith c. 1870.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Aurea'

('Aureovariegata', 'Armstrong') Conical, compact, slow-growing, foliage yellow. J. Waterer, Bagshot, England c.1860. Vic: Dandenongs (Hamer Arboretum, ptd.1978).

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Barry's Silver'

('Barry's White') Foliage feathery, silver-white especially in new growth, taller than wide, needing some shade. Introduced by Roly Barry, South Taranaki Nsy, Hawera, NZ 1990.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blom'

Dwarf (small sport of 'Alumii'), columnar, flame-like in outline, dense, branches erect, leaves waxy blue. Blom Nursery, Boskoop, Netherlands as a sport of 'Alumii' in about 1930; distributed 1942.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Gem'

Dwarf, compact and conical like 'Ellwoodii' but with softer, more feathered foliage. Sport of 'Ellwoodii' R. Barry, S Taranaki Nsy, Hawera, New Zealand, 1961.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Jacket'

Conical, branches widespread, leaves bluish with prominent white markings below. M. Young, Milford Nsy, England c. 1930 and derived from 'Glauca'.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Caudata'

Dwarf, dense, conical, slow-growing. Goudkade Bros, Boskoop, Netherlands,c. 1934.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Columnaris'

Narrow, columnar, to 5 m or so tall, branches erect, leaves blue-green. J. Spek, Nurseryman, Boskoop, Netherlands c. 1940 as a seedling.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Darleyensis'

Conical, slow-growing, waxy-white J. Smith & Son, Darley Dale Nsy, UK in the 1870s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwood's Gold'

Conical to columnar, branches upright, foliage semi-juvenile, bright yellow in early summer but less so in autumn. Origin unknown.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodii'

Conical, branches erect, leaves needle-like. Seedling selection grown at Swanmore Park by g. Ellwood, Bishop's Waltham, England c. 1925.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Erecta Alba'

Narrow, conical, to 5 m or more tall, branches widespread, sprays tipped white. W. Keesen &Sons, Terra Nova Nsy, Aalsmeer, Netherlands c. 1891.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Erecta Viridis'

Narrow, columnar to 5 m or more tall, needles bright green. Waterers Nursery, Knap Hill, London, 1855, from Californian seed.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Filiformis Compacta'

Dwarf, branch tips slender, drooping, leaves dark green with white markings. Origin unknown.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Fletcher'

S White' Fast-growing, white-variegated variant of 'Fletcheri'. Origin unknown.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Fletcheri'

Columnar, to 5 m or more, branches erect, leaves blue-green, purple in autumn. Sport selected by a. Sizmer, Ottershaw Nsy near Chertsey, UK, c. 1911.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Forsteckensis'

Dwarf, round, mossy, leaves pale blue. Forstecker Nsy near Kiel, Germany, late 1880s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Green Globe Variegated'

Variegated version of 'Green Globe'. An unstable variant probably of Australian origin.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Green Globe'

Extremely small, compact. Seedling variant raised at Palmer &Sons Nsy, Glen Eden, Auckland, New Zealand c. 1950.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Imbricata Pendula'

Foliage long, weeping, threadlike. Seedling variant raised in Palmerston North, New Zealand c. 1930. Vic: Dandenongs ('Pirianda').

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Juvenalis Stricta'

A medium-sized conical bush with soft blue-green foliage. A cultivar of uncertain relationship raised as a seedling in a batch of parent c. lawsoniana in Rotorua, New Zealand in 1930's but more like c. pisifera.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Kilmacurragh'

Columnar, tapering to the tip, branches ascending, dense, sprays irregular. Raised on the estate of Thomas Acton, Kilmacurragh, County Wicklow, Ireland.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Knowefieldensis'

('Tabuliformis') Dwarf with low, flat habit, widespread branches, tips thin, drooping, leaves slender, blue green. Little & Ballantines Nsy, Carlisle, UK.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Lombartsii'

Conical tree with foliage golden yellow. Originated p. Lombarts, Zundert, Holland, 1904 and introduced by him in 1915.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Lutea Nana'

Dwarf, conical, foliage yellow. W.h. Rogers &Son, Red Lodge Nsy, Eastleigh, England about 1929.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Lutea'

Eventually becoming tall and columnar with pendulous branches and golden yellow tipped sprays. Nursery of g. &w. Rollisson, Tooting, England c. 1873. Vic: Emerald (Nobelius Heritage Nursery, by Office c. 10 m tall).

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Lycopodioides'

Conical, twigs contorted, leaves blue-green. From seed, van der Elst, Tottenham Nsy, Dedemsvaart, Netherlands c. 1890.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Malonga Park'

Foliage bright golden-variegated. Grows to about 1 m in 10 years. Found by Ron Radford, Tasmania as a sport on 'Filiformis Compacta'.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Minima Aurea'

Dwarf, more or less round, compact, foliage yellow throughout. W.h. Rogers &Son, Red Lodge Nsy, Southampton, England c. 1929.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Minima Glauca'

Dwarf, more or less round, compact, branches erect, leaves bluish with white markings. An old cultivar originating in uk.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Naberi'

Conical, 5 m or more tall, branches spreading, branch tips yellow. Naber &Co, Gouda, Netherlands c. 1929.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Nana Albospica'

Dwarf, compact, branches ascending, leaves pale green, sprays white at tips. Origin unknown c. 1870s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Nana Argentea'

('Argentea Compacta') Dwarf compact bush with new growth silvery cream. Similar to but different from 'Pygmaea Argentea'. Old cultivar originating from Germany.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Nidiformis'

Dwarf, branches spraying outwards with the tips drooping slightly giving a nest-like appearance, leaves blue-green. Rovelli Bros, Pallanza, Italy c. 1890.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Olbrichii'

Dense, columnar, sprays fern-like, leaves blue-green. Froebel, nurseryman Zurich, Switzerland c. 1900.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Oregon Blue'

Fast growing and broadly conical tree with silver-blue foliage. Raised from seed at Arneson's Nsy, and introduced r. Bush Nsy, both nurseries in Canby, Oregon, usa.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Pembury Blue'

Medium-sized, conical, branches rather loose, bluest of the cultivars although losing the colour slightly with age. Origin unknown.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Pottenii'

To 5 m or more tall, branches mostly ascending but spray tips spreading out and down, soft to touch, bluish green. Potten Nursery, Cranbrook, England, c. 1920.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Pygmea Argentea'

Dwarf, globose; foliage green with creamy white new growth. Similar to 'Minima Glauca' but with variegation. Old cultivar originated from the Backhouse Nsy, York, uk.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Rosenthalii'

Conical, to 5 m or more tall, main branches ascending, outer branches slightly spreading, leaves pale green. P. Smith, Bergedorf near Hamburg, Germany.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Silver Threads'

Foliage golden, flecked with white. Variegated sport of 'Ellwood's Gold introduced 1981 by d.w. Hatch, Chantrey Nsy, Devon, uk.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Smithii'

A confused name sometimes referred to as yellow 'Darleyensis' and probably better applied as 'Lutea Smithii'. Conical, upright, open at first becoming compact, leaves yellow. J. Smith &Son, Darley Dale, England in 1880s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Snow Flurry'

Slow-growing with creamy foliage. Juvenile foliage sport of c. lawsoniana introduced by s. Taranake Nsy, Hawera, nz in the mid 1960s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Snow Flurry'

Creamy-white variegated. Sport on juvenile leaves c. lawsoniana, s. Taranaki Nursery, Hawera, New Zealand, mid-1960s.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Snow Queen'

('Silver Queen') Globose when young becoming more conical; foliage nodding, tricolour yellow, blue and green. Grows about 30 cm each year. Origin Australia but otherwise unknown.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Stewartii'

Conical, mostly upright, to 5 m or more tall, sprays yellowish at the tips and lime-green in winter. D. Stewart &Son, Bournemouth, England c. 1910.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Tamariscifolia'

Dwarf, compact, forming flattened nest-like clump, branches widespreading and slightly drooping at the spray tips, leaves pale blue-green. James Smith & Son, Darley Dale near Matlock, UK.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Tharandtensis Caesia'

Dwarf, globose to conical with few branches, leaves tiny, green. Forest of Tharandt, Germany c. 1890.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Triomf Van Boskoop'

Conical, to 10 m or more tall, branches ascending and spreading outwards, leaves rough to touch, pale, waxy greyish blue. D. Grootendorst, nurseryman, Boskoop, Netherlands c. 1890.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Vens Yellow'

Globose when young but developing a leader; foliage bright yellow. Selected c. 1970 by Carl Vandervin of Olinda, Victoria, Australia.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Versicolor'

Broadly conical, branches widespreading, fairly open, sprays spattered cream and green above, green beneath. C. J. Coninck, Tottenham Nsy, Dedemsvaart, Netherlands c. 1882.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Westermannii'

Branchlets spreading to pendent, yellowish at first. J. Jurissen &Son, Naarden, Netherlands, c. 1880.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Winston Churchill'

Foliage golden. Hogger Nsy, E Grinstead, Sussex, UK. c. 1945.

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Wisselii'

Narrowly conical, to 5 m or more tall, upright at first, sprays fern-like, leaves small, closely packed, blue-green. F. van der Wissel, Epe, Netherlands 1888.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Cupressaceae
genus       Chamaecyparis Spach