Because the blue Nootka falsecypress (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Glauca’) has small, brown, soccer-shaped cones growing from its branch tips, it belongs to the conifer family. Its ever-present leaves, which are small and scale-like, decorate its drooping branchlets. The branchlets are reddish-orange and somewhat curled. The leaves are blue-green on top but paler beneath. The cone is shaped like a soccer ball. The tree ranges in height from 30 to 50 feet and 10 to 15 feet in width. The tree is native to northwest North America. There is some debate which genus this plant should be placed with: Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, Callitropsis nootkatensis or Xanthocyparis nootkatensis. In this discussion we follow Dirr (2009). The wood of C. nootkatensis is very aromatic. It is not as well known as C. pisifiera and C. obtusa. There are about 15 cultivars available including C. nootkatensis ‘Glauca’, which has bluish leaves, and C. nookatensis ‘Pendula’ which has pendulous branches and rich green foliage. The very fast growing, garden-popular tree, Leyland Cypress, xCupressocyparis leylandi, is a hybrid of Cupressus macrocarpa and Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. The genus name comes from the Greek chamai meaning dwarf or to the ground an kyparissos meaning “cypress tree”. Nootkatensis refers to the Nootka Sound in British Columbia.
Common name: Blue Nootka false cypress (Alaska Cedar)
Scientific Name (family and order): Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Glauca’ (D. Don) Spach (Cupressaceae, Cupressales)
Species Origin: North Western North America
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported.
Habit: 60 – 130’ tall; 1-5’ wide. Usually narrowly conical total tree shape. Old trees have greatly buttressed, fluted trunks with huge burls. Crown conical. Large branches sweep downward the lift upward at the ends; foliage on branchlets hangs like curtains.
Habitat: Zone 4 -7. Habitat forests and moist coastal mountain slopes.
Trunk/Stem: Bark Red-brown to orange-brown, stringy; branchlets are quadrangular and they become red-brown after one year.
Leaves: Leaves scale-like very small with free, pointed tips, keeled, dark green above and paler beneath in aromatic flattened sprays and pressed close to the shoot. Leaves in 4 rows along branchlet. Leaf tips sharp and not tightly pressed against branchlet. Foliage sprays flattened, long and pendent. Leaves bluish green or grayish green. Unlike other Chamaecyparis species C. nootkatensis leaves do not have white markings on the undersurface; moreover, crushed leaves of C. nootkatensis are rank smelling. In the ‘Variegata’ cultivar the foliage sprays are irregularly blotched creamy white.
Flowers: Monoecious. Male and female flowers both every small; male flowers yellow; female flowers blur clusters at tips of the winter shoots.
Fruits and seeds: Cones 3/8” wide, globose ripe in two years. and glaucous; 4 to 6 hooked scales, ripening the second year. Soccer ball shape and segmentation; each cone has a conspicuous curvved point in its center.