Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chamaecyparis nootkatensis

Here's a shot of Yellow Cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) at Mount Rainier park. The botanical name I just used, while still used in nursery trades, has been replaced with Xanthocyparis nootkatensis.

Communities of C. nootkatensis cropped up all around Mount Rainier park, but not as consistently as the other standard forest trees of Abies amabilis (pacific silver fir), Psuedotsuga menziesii (Douglas fir) and Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock). While the severely drooping branches protect the plant from excessive snow-loading, it also means that when the snow slides down off the branches, it exposes the scaly leaves to extreme temperatures and winds. So, as I understand it, stands of these trees tend to thrive in protected microclimates.

Here's a shot of its ornamental use near Snoqualmie Falls:

I'm guessing the above is a cultivar, not a straight species. The branchlets are similar, either way, and can be seen below:

C. nootkatensis is also called Alaska Cedar, in reference to its northernmost range. I see it used in the east coast as a horticultural oddity (along with weeping cedars, both so beloved by those who landscape fast food parking lots). It never makes sense to me in a landscape out east, but it was quite beautiful in its natural habitat.

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