Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodii' / Ellwood's Lawson cypress

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodii' is a staple of the nursery industry, a familiar, neat cone of bluish green juvenile foliage when young. It is also a good example of what becomes of a nice dwarf conifer if overzealously propagated. By taking only the strongest cuttings for propagation, the plants grown now are much more vigorous than originally intended. Plants grown in the 1920s would only grow to heights of 3 feet (1 m) or so after 25 years, all the while maintaining tight juvenile foliage. Now it's typical to see plants reaching heights of 4.5 feet (1.5 m) after only 10 years on to unbelievable dimensions of 15 feet (5 m) or more after 10 years with foliage coming close to adult form.

This cultivar originated as a self-sown seedling selected in 1915 by G. Ellwood, then chief gardener at Swanmore Park, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Attribution from: Aris Auders and Derek Spicer; RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers; ©2012 Kingsblue Press

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Ellwoodii' — a mature specimen that's maintaining it's intended look.
Photo by Bill Barger


Sharon Plow

I love my new "tree". It's really beautiful. My daughter got it for me yesterday. I don't know how to care for it. I live just below Baton Rouge. Any ideas?

Web Editor

Sharon these are native to the Pacific Northwest, where the summers are drier and cooler than your and the winters are colder. Give it good drainage and try not to crowd it when you plant it as your moist summer air will mean that it needs good air circulation. This species is very susceptible to a water mold disease caused by a member of the genus Phytophthora and unless your plant was grafted onto disease-resistant rootstock it will likely be fairly short-lived. :-(

Zina Williams

I love my trees I had to go back and get a 2nd tree. They are so.... beautiful

Bob Smith

Are these a form of Port Orford Cedar?
How Is it related?

Maxwell Cohn

definitely ... 'Elwoodii' is a dwarf cultivar or Lawson cypress (also known as Port Orford cedar, even though it's not even closely related to cedars). It is related to the Lawson cypress trees that grow in forests in southern Oregon, in the same way that a dwarf human will be related to typical people.

Another is example is to consider how a pug is related to a natural, wild African dog.

Bob Smith

Thanks Maxwell.
I grew up in central Texas, We had eastern red cedar....aka Juniperus virginiana. I then moved to western Washington, On the 3rd day here, I took a hike, passed a tree, it snapped in my brain ... 100 feet later, that was a cedar tree, due to bark, I backed up .... yep, tagged western red cedar ... found out later Thuja plicata.

So just like the Elwoodii, neither of these two (eastern and western) are TRUE CEDARS.

I thought so, but wanted to verify----Good Day to you-----Bob

Maxwell Cohn

You're welcome Bob ... you've stumbled onto one of the more frustrating realities of being a Conehead — that common names for plants are often meaningless and misleading. Fortunately you've come to the right place. One of the essential tasks of the American Conifer Society is that of clarifying nomenclature.

you're correct Juniperus virginiana is not a cedar. It's a juniper and should more properly called eastern juniper. Thuja plicata is not a cedar either. It's an arborvitae and should probably best be called western arborvitae. As you continue exploring the northwest, you'll encounter Nootka cypress (Cupressus nootkatensis). A lot of folks call that one yellow cedar.

One of the common names for Thuja occidentalis (eastern arborvitae) is eastern white cedar. It's not a cedar either. Then there's Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cypress). Locals in the southeast call that one Atlantic white cedar.

Although I've never seen it written anywhere, I get the idea that early explorers looking at plants called everything with aromatic wood a cedar. In reality cedar is solely reserved as a common name for plants in the Cedrus genus. There are no native cedars in the United States.

Cathryn Moskow

Someone just gave me a sweet 10” Elwoodii cypress which grows to about 4.5f in first 10 years. Before I plant it -Which creatures native to Rhode Island ecozone (59e) does this tree support? Thanks!