Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' / weeping Nootka cypress

Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' is a full-sized, tree form of Nootka cypress with graceful pendulous branches that sweep upwards at the ends. Many forms of this tree are available from narrower to broader forms. When well sited, this cedar is fast growing and may easily add one or more feet (30 cm) in height and width per year.

Since this weeping cultivar is one of the most popular of Nootka cypresses, it bears repeating that is currently some dispute over its classification. It was first described in 1824 as Cupressus but in 1841 it was transferred to Chamaecyparis because of its flattened sprays of foliage. It remained there until the beginning of this century when genetic evidence strongly suggested that it should be returned to Cupressus. This cultivar was first introduced to the nursery trade in the early 1880s by A. van Leeuwen Nursery, Naarden, The Netherlands.

In 2002, however, the widely respected taxonomist from the RHS/Kew, Aljos Farjon, made a case that it be transferred to Xanthocyparis. This was based on the discovery of a new species in Vietnam, Xanthocyparis vietnamensis which had strong similarities to nootkatensis. This evidence hasn't been accepted by all authorities, let alone the nursery trade. Some arboretums are currently listing this species as a synonym for the new classification as Xanthocyparis. In the meantime, the Vietnamese cypress has since been redescribed in to Cupressus.

Therefore, the consumer is still likely to encounter this species (cultivar) under its older name, Chamaecyparis nootkatensis 'Pendula' as well as yellow cedar, Alaskan blue cedar and weeping blue cedar (when, in fact, it's not a cedar) as well as various weeping cypresses. It's a lovely tree and doesn't deserve this kind of abuse by quarreling taxonomists and plant pedants.

Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' — this weeping Nootka cypress grows at The Dawes Arboretum, Newark, Ohio.
Photo by Rob Hendricks courtesy of The Dawes Arboretum
Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' — a stately tree with sweeping branches and pendulous branchlets creating graceful curtains of green foliage. An elegant specimen tree.
Photo by Iseli Nursery, Inc.
Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Sandra McLean Cutler
Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' in the Harper Collection of Dwarf & Rare Conifers, Hidden Lake Gardens, Tipton, Michigan; photo from August 2005.
Photo by Dax Herbst
Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' — an approximately fifteen-year-old specimen in Brunswick, Maine.
Photo by Sean Callahan
Cupressus nootkatensis 'Pendula' in a large arboretum setting.
Photo by Chris


Jack Blackwell

I have a 'Nootka' in my yard that I purchased from Bill Hendricks at Klyn Nursery. He named it 'Pendula Dense'. It has a tighter growth habit and doesn't share the same weep that the 'Pendula Weeping' has. It is an amazing blue green color and it truly makes a statement in my yard.

David Olszyk

Hi Jack, there's an obscure named cultivar out there called 'Pendula Densa' — that's probably the one you have. For what it's worth, there are at least nine named cultivars out there that were named seedlings of 'Pendula'.

Dug Zach

how difficult are these trees to transplant? I am moving and would like to take a tree with me that my mother and I planted about 10 years ago in northern Michigan zone 4.

David Olszyk

not terribly difficult at all. In order to maximize success, it's recommended to root prune along the tree's drip line in spring and fall over a 2-year period. This will encourage the root system to bulk up and cause a lot less stress to the plant before you finally pop it out.