A tree 120 ft high, with a trunk 5 or 6 ft in diameter; as known in cultivation of rather slender, pyramidal form when young, becoming proportionately broader later; the smaller branches two-ranked, more or less pendulous; the ultimate division 1⁄16 to 1⁄12 in. wide, sometimes terete, more often four-angled, but broader than thick. Leaves in four ranks and of about equal size, 1⁄12 to 1⁄8 in. long, abruptly and sharply pointed, not often glandular, dark green. Cones 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. across, globose, rather glaucous, with usually four (sometimes six) scales that are furnished in the middle part with a triangular-pointed boss; ripening the second year.
Native of western N. America from Alaska to Oregon; discovered by Menzies in 1793, and introduced about 1853. It is, from a garden point of view, undoubtedly one of the finest and most desirable of the cypresses, growing rapidly, being very hardy, and almost invariably preserving a healthy, vigorous appearance. Nor does it seem fastidious as to soil. Of the other species it is most likely to be confused with Lawson’s cypress, from which it may be distinguished by the following characters: leaves strongly pungent when crushed, with a median ridge and not marked with white on the under-surface; sprays rough to the touch; cone-scales with a prominent point; bark thin, and hence never deeply furrowed, even on old trees. From a distance the Nootka cypress is usually easy to distinguish by reason of its very pendulous sprays.
The Nootka cypress grows well over much of the British Isles but prefers a deep, moist soil and does not thrive on shallow chalky soils or poor peats. The following are a few of the best trees in the British Isles: Leonardslee, Sussex, 89 × 63⁄4 ft (1958); Linton Park, Kent, 86 × 71⁄4 ft (1965); Eridge Castle, Kent, 97 × 91⁄2 ft (1963); Titness Park, Berks., 89 × 71⁄2 ft (1957); Westonbirt, Glos., 90 × 10 ft (1965); Broxwood Court, Heref., 95 × 83⁄4 ft (1957); Dupplin Castle, Perths., 90 × 71⁄4 ft (1957); Castle Leod, Ross and Cromarty, 90 × 91⁄2 ft (1966).
cv. ‘Compacta’. – A dwarf form of dense habit.
cv. ‘Lutea’. – Young shoots yellow, finally green. A vigorous and handsome form. Wrongly called ‘Aurea’.
cv. ‘Pendula’. – A very striking variety in which the trunk is erect, the primary branches about horizontal, and the leaf-bearing branchlets hanging as slender streamers from the lower side of the branches in a quite vertical line.