Xanthocyparis nootkatensis
Common Name: nootka cypress 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Native Range: Western North America
Zone: 4 to 7
Height: 40.00 to 90.00 feet
Spread: 15.00 to 25.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen


Grow in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in full sun in the northern part of its growing range, but appreciates some afternoon part shade in the southern part of its range. Best performance is in moist, fertile soils in cool summer climates with above average humidity/rainfall.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Xanthocyparis nootkatensis is commonly called Nootka cypress, Alaska-cedar or yellow cypress. It is native to moist soils in bottomlands, along streams and in ravines along the Pacific Coast from southeastern Alaska to northern California. It is an evergreen conifer that will grow slowly to as much as 60-90' tall in the wild and live for 1000+ years. Drooping sprays of small, scale-like, bluish-green leaves. Rounded seed cones to 1/2” diameter. Bark is gray and peels in loose scales. Trunk is buttressed at the base. Although it may grow from 60-90’ tall in the wild, it usually grows much shorter in home landscapes. This species was reportedly found by A. Menzies in Nootka Sound in 1793.

This plant was originally described in the genus Cupressus, which many botanist consider to be correct, but has also been placed in Chamaecyparis and Xanthocyparis (as done here). Some strong evidence suggests, however, that it maybe should be placed in the monotypic genus Callitropsis.

Specific epithet means of Nootka Sound, British Columbia.


No known serious insect or disease problems. Plants generally have some susceptibility to juniper blight, root rot and certain insect pests such as bagworms and juniper scale. Watch for red spider mite. Plants may struggle in the St. Louis area where environmental conditions do not favor most conifers.


Landscape specimen.

Although the native species is rarely grown far from its native habitat, ‘Pendula’ is a compact weeping form that is much more common in eastern North America.