Montag, 12. März 2012

Plant of the Day (March 12th, 2011) - Xanthocyparis nootkatensis (D. Don) Farjon & Harder (aka Cupressus nootkatensis D. Don)

The next evergreen conifer, which I want to show you, is Xatnhocyparis nootkatensis (D. Don), Farjon & Harder of the Cupressaceae family (Cypresses). In some literature, the species still belongs to the Genus Chamaecyparis and is called Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (D. Don) Spach. In other books, the species belongs to the genus Cupressus, where its name is Cupressus nootkatensis D. Don.
In Germany, we call this plant “Nootka-Scheinzypresse” or “Alaska-Zeder”, while common English names are “Nootka-Cypress”, “Yellow Cypress” or “Alaska Cypress.”

The name “Nootka” refers to the Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island in British Columbia (West Canada), where it was first discovered by Archibald Menzies in 1793.

X. nootkatensis - habitus

It's a tree, which can reach heights until 40 metres (131.2 feet), but there are also dwarf forms in mountainous regions, which are only a few metres high. The leaves of young trees (until the 4th year) are needles, while the leaves of older trees have the typical, scale-like form of the Cupressaceae. They have a green of yellow-green colour. There are also glands, which are responsible for the sharp smell, if you grind some leaves between your fingers.

 X. nootkatenis - foliage & female cones

The bark is greyish and with 1 to 2 centimetres very thin. Single strips fall off with age and give the stem a furrowed appearance.

X. nootkatensis is monoicous, so again, we have male and female cones (my pictures shows a female cone). Young female cones are green with red spots, while older cones are yellow-green with brown stripes. The male cones are longer as female cones and are yellowish with brown spots. The ripening needs two years, so it's not unusual to find young and older cones on the same tree.

X. nootkatensis - closer look at the foliage & a female cone

As already indicated, X. nootkatensis is native to the Pacific Northwest of North America and can be found in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and even in the Northern Areas of California.(Siskiyou Mountains). It prefers fresh, humid places and has no problem with nutrient-poor soils. So, it can be found e. g. at slopes, bogs, riversides and even avalanche chutes. Its distribution ranges in height to 1200 metres.

The wood is very valuable and use for carving and the production of furnitures. The Indians of the region used it to make totem poles and paddles for their canoes.

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