Plant Data Sheet


Chamaecyparis nootkatensis     Alaska-cedar



Pacific coast mountain ranges from south central Alaska to southwest Oregon.

Climate, elevation 

Cool wet climate.  Shore line to tree line in northern part of range.  Only found at tree line in the southern parts of range.

Local occurrence

West slopes Cascade Mountains.

Habitat preferences

Listed as shade tolerant but this varies through range.  More shade tolerant in southern parts of range.  Prefers deep well-drained soil rich in calcium and magnesium.  Can also be found on rocky soils of the alpine above the limits of other conifers.  The only conifer to survive on sites with frequent avalanches.  Low frost resistance.  In sites with low temperatures, needs heavy snow pack to protect roots.

Plant strategy type/successional stage

Successional stage depends on site.  Can be long-lived seral species or a climax species.  Can be the dominant or co-dominant over story species.

Associated species:

Western white pine, mountain hemlock, Pacific yew, noble fir, subalpine fir, incense cedar, Sitka spruce, Doug-fir.

May be collected as: (seed, layered, divisions, etc.)

Seeds, layers, cuttings.


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Good seed crops are irregular, occurring at 4 year or longer intervals.  Seed maturation time varies through range.  It is around September and October.  Mature and non-mature cones can appear on the same branch.  Mature cones are yellow brown.

Seed germination

Germination rates are low. Tetrazolium stain recommended to test seed viability.

Two recommendations for breaking dormancy:

1.)   Cold moist stratification for 90 days.  Germination will occur at 24C.  (Native Plant Network.)

2.)   Warm stratification at 68-86F for 30 days followed by moist stratification at 40F for 30 days.  (Forest Service Database.)

Seed life

3-5 years in storage.

Recommended seed storage conditions

Dry seeds and store at 32F.

Propagation recommendations

Vegetative propagation recommended for container stock.  Treat cuttings with indolebutyric acid and pot in greenhouse. 

Soil or medium requirements

No inoculum necessary.

Installation form

Container plant from cutting.  Young tree can be ready to plant one year after cutting taken.

Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

Slow growing.   Can reach 100 feet tall and four feet diameter but id usually smaller.  At tree line, often shrub like.  Long lived.  Can live 3,500 years.

Sources cited

Young, J. and Young, C. 1992. Seeds of Woody Plants of North America. Portland, OR: Dioscorides Press.



Data compiled by    Katie McGowan May 15, 2003