E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Callitropsis nootkatensis (D. Don) Oerst. ex D.P. Little
Cupressaceae (Cypress family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Kevin Newell  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #1346)

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Distribution of Callitropsis nootkatensis
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Yellow-cedar is a medium-sized evergreen, coniferous tree species found along the Pacific Coast in North America, where it ranges from California north to Alaska: disjunct inland populations are found in BC and Oregon (Michener 2010). Plants are often dwarfed at high elevations (Michener 2010). It is readily identifiable by its scale-like bluish-green leaves, and spreading and noticeably drooping branches which stand out from other adjacent conifer trees. Cones are round and resemble berries in the first year, but become woody as they age (BC Ministry of Forests and Range 2010). This is a common species in old-growth stands at low elevations in the central and northern coast of BC. Commonly associated species include western redcedar and western hemlock. Decline and die-off of mature yellow-cedar trees has been noted in Alaska and British Columbia. Read more about yellow cedar die-off and associated research.

Species Information

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Tree, usually 20-40 m tall when mature; branches and branchlets droop strongly; bark ridged and fissured, not tearing off in long thin strips; wood aromatic (potato-like smell); growing "tip" (leader) drooping.
Scalelike, opposite, somewhat overlapping, close to stem, with sharp, rigid tip; bluish green.
Seed cones like a round, bumpy light green "berry" when immature, brown when ripe, less than 10 mm long, glaucous; pollen cones about 4 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Habitat/Range: Wet to mesic slopes and bogs in the lowland, montane and subalpine zones; common in and W of the Coast-Cascade Mountains, rare in SE BC; N to SE AK and S to N CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Callitropsis nootkatensis

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 537 2050
Slope Gradient (%) 0 26 350
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 210 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CMA(8), CWH(1127), ESSF(12), IDF(1), MH(411), MS(1)

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Xanthocyparis nootkatensis (D. Don) D.P. Little

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References