The weeping Alaskan cedar, otherwise known as Xanthocyparis or Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula,’ is a tree commonly found and used in Pacific Northwest landscapes. There are good reasons for this: its attractive, narrow weeping form and compact, hardy, evergreen attributes make it an ideal tree for both public and private planting spaces in our region.
The original species from which the weeping Alaskan cedar was derived is Chamaecyparis nootkatensis. It is found growing in streams and ravines of the Siskiyou mountains of Northern California up through Oregon and Washington and into Southeast Alaska. The weeping form of this tree has become more popular than the straight species mainly due to its beautiful, pendulous branches.
Characteristics and Uses
The weeping Alaskan cedar is a conifer tree but not a true cedar or cypress, although it is found in the cypress family of Cupressaceae. It is pyramidal in shape and has small scale-like leaves that droop down in small sprays and collectively create what look like long, graceful arms reaching downward. The fruit it produces are small leathery cones up to ½” in diameter.
This tree is much smaller than the straight species, reaching up to 25-30’ tall and a narrow 8-12’ wide. Because of its small size, the weeping Alaskan cedar is a perfect conifer to use in garden settings.
It provides a great accent in mixed woodland gardens, and it’s blue-green foliage contrasts nicely with yellow and bright green leaves in conifer gardens. It also adds great structure and interest to Pacific Northwest gardens, complementing the shapes and colors of various Japanese maples and other broadleaf trees. This tree can also be used to great effect next to boulders and gravel, dry creek beds, and in zen gardens.
The weeping Alaskan cedar can also be used as a screening tree because of it’s evergreen leaves and narrow width. It functions very well as a hedge, providing more interest and beauty than arborvitae, although not providing as tight a hedging effect.
Care for Weeping Alaskan Cedars
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Pendula’ thrive in moist, humus-rich soils with good drainage and prefer slightly acidic soil pH like most conifers. They like full sun or partial shade and should be watered regularly to maintain consistent soil moisture. Mulching around the base of the tree and root ball will help keep the soil moisture in.
These trees are low maintenance and need very little pruning. However, they can be affected by phytophthora diseases and honey dew fungus, so optimum cultural conditions should be sought to avoid such disorders.
Other Alaskan Cedar Cultivars
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis ‘Green Arrow’ is an even narrower cultivar that quickly grows to 18-35’ tall and 2-5’ wide. This tree makes an interesting specimen to feature in the garden, or they work great clustered together.
Contact Frontier Tree Service today to help you select and plant a weeping Alaskan cedar tree for your yard.