Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens
Tree of the month series - this series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens is compiled by members of the Friends group and Gardens staff. We aim to build up to a comprehensive archive of trees in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Each article will illustrate a tree growing in Belfast Botanic Gardens together with information from a range of sources.
Click here to view the tree archive
Tree of the Month, March 2011
The name Chamaecyparis means 'small conifer' which is a joke as many will reach 60m or more and it is said that no Lawson cypress in Britain has yet stopped growing!(1) The Lawson was introduced to the UK by Lawson's Nursery in Edinburgh in 1854, from its native area in Oregon and NW California. It grows very well here, is tolerant of most soils and is hardy. It has given rise to more cultivars than any other tree species in cultivation. When grown from seed it tends to produce a wide range of leaf colour and growth form. The many cultivars are easily propagated from cuttings.
The base of the leaves clasp the stem and taper to a point. The male cones (pollen cones) are reddish and are typically produced in huge numbers in early spring. The young female cones are a pinkish grey colour, often produced towards the tips of the same branches that carry the pollen cones. The ripe seed cones are about the size of a pea and open to shed their seeds while still attached to the branches where they may remain for several years. The seeds germinate freely.
|Lawson Cypress, Belfast Botanic Gardens||Foliage of Lawson Cypress|
|Trunk of Lawson Cypress||Old (shed) cones and young pollen cones of Lawson Cypress|
|Young female cones of Lawson Cypress||Female cone of Lawson Cypress. Note tubular ovule between the scales and the sticky droplets exuded from the ovules to catch pollen|
|Pollen cone of Lawson cypress||Leaves of Lawson Cypress|
Photos taken in 2011 in Belfast Botanic Gardens. Copyright Jon Pilcher
reference (1): The Trees of Britain and Northern Europe by Alan Mitchell and John Wilkinson. Collins, London 1991.