Most Rare Port Orford Cedar Ends Up in Japan

Mar 21, 2014

 Port Orford cedar grows only in a small geographic area in coastal Northern California and Southern Oregon that includes Port Orford, Ore., home of the Memorial Day Port Orford Cedar Festival.

 Historically, Coastal tribes used the tree to make lodges, boats, arrow shafts and tools. They turned the strong, light and rot-resistant inner bark fibers into rope or string, and used the fibers for weaving baskets and blankets and for making utensils. The tree still plays a significant role in the cultural, medicinal and religious lives of Indians yet inhabiting the tree’s geographical range.    The wood is also used for shingles, fencing, decks, boats, chests, and closet paneling to deter moths.  Most Port Orford cedar goes to Japan for making everything from toys to temples.  Japan pays high prices for the straight-grained, fragrant and durable wood, which resembles the country’s own sacred, and now rare, Hinoki cedar.  The tallest known Port Orford cedar tree, at 248 feet, is in Coos County. The world’s largest structure using Port Orford cedar is believed to be the historic chateau at Oregon Caves National Monument. A disease spread by vehicle tires, phytophthora, seriously threatens the tree today. 

 "Trees to Know in Oregon." OSU Extension Service. Corvallis, Ore.: Oregon State University and Oregon Forestry Department, 1999. 18-19. Print; Colgrove, Nolan, and Kathy Heffner-McClellan. "Port-Orford cedar." Friends of Elk River. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.  "Port-Orford Cedar Festival." Our Oregon Coast. 25 May 2013. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.  "Spring 2013 Champions." American Forests' Big Tree Registry. 2013. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.