Content Detail

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.

  • Family (English) Cypress
  • Family (botanic) Cupressaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Medium tree (25-40 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Columnar, Pyramidal, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Native geographic location and habitat:

Alaska cedar is native to moist bottomlands in the Pacific Northwest.

Bark color and texture:

The shedding bark is reddish-brown in color.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Evergreen needles on drooping boughs have an unpleasant odor when crushed. Closely appressed, needles are 1/8 to 1/4 inches long and usually not glandular. They are gray-green to bluish green on top and bottom. 

Flower arrangement, shape, and size: 

Flowers are inconspicuous; male pollen cones and female flowering cones are on the same tree.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

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

Plant care:

The Alaska cedar does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers deep, moist, loamy soil in a sunny, well-drained site. Protect it from drying winter winds. The plants benefit with a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and moderate soil temperatures. It is extremely cold hardy and tolerant of urban pollution.

No pests or diseases of note.

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 strong accent in the landscape.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift