Chamaecyparis thyoides / Atlantic white cypress

Chamaecyparis thyoides, as described in 1888 by (Linnaeus) Britton, Sterns, and Poggenburg, in Species Plantarum, 2nd edition, is commonly known as Atlantic white-cedar, southern white-cedar, white cypress or swamp cedar. The common name "Atlantic white-cedar" has been rejected by the American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature, as it is a cypress, not a cedar. However, it is still the most widely used name for this species. It is also spelled "Atlantic whitecedar", combining the words "white" and "cedar" to indicate that the tree is not a true cedar.

There is one subspecies, Chamaecyparis thyoides subsp. henryae, which is sometimes treated as a separate species, Ch. henryae. segregated into the disjunct Gulf Coast populations in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi.


Description. Atlantic white-cedar is an evergreen coniferous tree that grows to mature heights of 65 to 90 feet (20 - 28 m), rarely to 100 feet (35 m) tall.

  • Foliage is feathery in structure, growing in moderately flattened sprays, colored green to glaucous blue-green. The leaves are scale-like, measuring 0.08 to 0.16 inch (2 - 4 mm) long, and produced in opposite decussate pairs on somewhat flattened shoots; seedlings up to a year old have needle-like leaves.
  • Pollen cones are purple or brown, measuring 0.06 to 0.12 inch (1.5 – 3 mm) long and 0.04 to 0.08 inch (1 – 2 mm) broad, releasing their yellow pollen in spring.
  • Seed cones are globose, measuring 0.16 to 0.35 inch (4 - 9 mm) in diameter, with 6 to 10 seed scales, colored green or purple, then maturing brown in 5 – 7 months after pollination.
natural range of <em>Chamaecyparis thyoides</em>
natural range of Chamaecyparis thyoides

Distribution. This species is native to native to the Atlantic coast of North America from Maine south to Georgia, with a disjunct population on the Gulf of Mexico coast from Florida to Mississippi. It grows on wet sites on the coastal plain at altitudes from sea level up to 50 m, more rarely in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at elevations up to 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level.

Attribution from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

Chamaecyparis thyoides — a closeup of foliage and seed cones.
Photo by W. Cook
Chamaecyparis thyoides — a mature tree in nature.
Photo by W. Cook



I am looking for conifers for light shade no direct sun But bright. Dry conditions , screening and privacy. Under canopy of valley oaks. Santa Rosa Ca. Are there any for those conditions?

Maxwell Cohn

this species absolutely DOES NOT work on the U.S. west coast. It hates dry summers and likes wet feet.

Brook Restall

I'm in North Florida on a natural pond and would like to plant white false-cedars along the shoreline where some bald cypress sparsely grow because I'm looking for evergreens to fill in the gaps. Will white false-cedars tolerate longer Florida hot summers? Are they strong enough not to snap off half way up the trunk in a hurricane?