Lawson's Cypress - Cupressus lawsoniana


An evergreen tree with a columnar shape reaching up over 40 metres and with leading shoots drooping at the tip. Leaves opposite and scale like, all closely pressed together with white markings beneath. Branchlets flattened. Scented when crushed. Male cones are reddish; female rounded, small, 7 or 8 mm yellow brown when ripe.

Similar Species

Leyland and Nootka Cypress are commonly planted.  Other Cupressus, Juniperus and Thuja also have appressed scale like leaves in opposite pairs.  There are many Lawson Cypress cultivars and identification is difficult.

Identification difficulty
ID guidance

Cupressus have globose cones with peltate scales (i.e. the stalk arises from the middle of the under surface rather than the base or margin of the scale).  Lawson's, Nootka, Sawara, and some Leyland Cypress have flattened sprays of branchlets, but this is also seen in Thuja.

Recording advice

The County Recorder has asked for a specimen of this plant to be retained for verification; complicated due to many cultivars.  A set of reference photos showing key features may help; refer to Stace 4


Usually planted and then reseeding near parent tree.

When to see it

All year round.

Life History

Perennial evergreen.

UK Status

Widespread and fairly frequent in Britain but mostly planted.

VC55 Status

Fairly frequent in Leicestershire and Rutland but usually planted and then seeding near parent tree. In the 1979 Flora survey of Leicestershire it was not recorded.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map