Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's Tree- Cryptomeria japonica

One of my neighbors has this huge tree in their front yard that is just beautiful. Before I knew much about trees I think someone told me it was a Bald Cypress. Not knowing any better, I went on thinking they were correct. I then learned about Bald Cypress and will post information on it later in the winter. So what is this tree two doors down? I knew what it wasn't!

I finally got around to walking over there with camera in hand and went about observing this tree. Some of my photos are not very clear as this is a tall tree and fruits were up high. It was confirmed, this lovely was a Cryptomeria.

This is not a native tree but very adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions. Hardiness zones range from 6- 9. It was interesting to read that in the colder climates this evergreen's foliage can turn brownish purple in the winter. The leaves are small, ¼ - ½ inch long and pointed. It is moderately tolerant of drought conditions and can grow in sun to part shade.

It can grow 25 feet tall in 10 years. The average height of a Cryptomeria japonica is 50- 60 feet tall though in its native Japan and China specimens have been known to grown up to 150 feet tall. Its spread is about 20- 30 feet.
It is monoecious, the female fruit it rounded and on the ends of the branches. Like I said, this is a little blurry.

The bark is a very distinctive feature. It is a reddish brown and it shreds in long strips, similar fashion as the Bald Cypress (this could be why it was IDed incorrectly) The bark is really nice in appearance.

Interesting facts about the Cryptomeria include that it is one of the few evergreens that will coppice. (Coppice is cutting at near ground level to rejuvenate new growth. It can be done for its bark, as in a cinnamon tree, or to control height)

The Cryptomeria is said to be the only species in its genus, though other writings had stated there may be a second, though it was not identified. It is a member of the ancient family Taxodiaceae that have been around since the dinosaur age. Others in its family include the Bald Cypress, Dawn Redwood, California Redwood, and the giant Sequoias. There are cultivars that can be purchased that are dwarf or compact.

USDA- minimal information, links to other sites.
UCONN- good bulleted information
Floridata- nice write up with good information
NCState- brief overview
MOBOT- brief overview

Next week's tree – Ironwood/ Musclewood


  1. Cryptomeria is a gorgeous tree, and looks beautiful in front of your neighbor's house.

  2. I love Cryptomeria. We were just discussing it the other day, I had seen one that had turned pink (or brown, it looked pink to me), but heard from another Portland area gardener that theirs doesn't turn color in winter. It must not be cool enough here to do it reliably.

  3. Another great tree. Interesting factoid about the coppicing...maybe I'll try that some time.

  4. Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving, dear Queen.

    I'm playing catch-up. A busy time of year.

    Enjoyed the post, as always. Tree I.D. = my weakest horticultural area of expertise ;~)

  5. You did a great job researching the history behind this wonderful tree that is in my yard. I would have raked and closed the garage door if I knew you were taking pictures..

  6. What a beautiful tree. I just love, large, grand trees. It's adaptability is probably why it has been around for so long.

  7. Hi Janet! It's a great tree! I'd be a bit scared to have it so close to the house although. We have wind storms here which uproot 100-year old giants.

  8. Cryptomeria is a beautiful tree . . . but it gets the worst rating for allergies in Thomas Ogren's book. He says this plant is considered the main cause of asthma and hay fever in Tokyo. Good thing I'm enjoying the views by blog instead of in person! I'd be sneezing all over you if it were pollen season :-)

  9. Hi Janet~~ I have personal experience with Cryptomeria. I bought a 1 gallon, grew it until it got to 5 feet, took cuttings that readily rooted, gave away the parent tree to a friend with acreage, grew the two cuttings until they were too big, then gave them to my garden buddy Carol who has them in large containers that, during some as of yet undetermined midnight escapade, I'd like to steal back. :) There are three tall, narrow specimens at a local doctor's office. I just took photos of them. Let me know if you'd like to see them.

    I like your movie tradition. Actually there are a few movies that I'm interested in seeing. The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock, It's Complicated, Meryl Streep, Up in the Air, George Clooney. And for a good cry, Precious. I will probably wait for the videos. Netflix has served us well.

    I accidentally clicked on your "signature" and went to signature making site. Thought I'd check it out.

  10. I am not familiar with this tree at all Janet but it's beautiful. Especially the big specimen in front of your neighbors.
    ps You should have seen those greenhouse panels over my pond before I cut them down. eek. Even worse than now. I just have to get the fish thru the next three months tho then I can take them off. :-)

  11. That is a beautiful tree. The bark reminds me a little of a Cedar tree. I think almost every tree you've shown on a Tuesday is new to me.

  12. Thanks for the info on this tree! I now know what coppice means. I would have thought it was something naughty. :)

  13. I did not realize that they had such good company in their botanical family. I have one of the dwarf cultivars, 'Gyokura' and love it. My other fav is 'Black Dragon', but I can't figure out where I could put it, maybe something else will die and I'll get room.

  14. Janet,

    I'm in the same boat with you, I'd assumed Bald Cypress myself. Never heard of Cryptomeria before. Looking forward to your post on Ironwood, it grows in our property's woods here.

  15. Hi sweetbay, thanks, it is a gorgeous tree, they love it.
    Hi Megan, I read about the color of the foliage changing color and wondered about this one as I didn't remember it changing color. As I read on, seeing the colder climates were the reason for the foliage color change.

    Hi Phillip, It is an interesting factoid....one that was mentioned in various references.

    Hi Alice, I know what you mean about catching up with the blogs...took a few days off myself. Tree identification isn't easy, the more I do it, the more I realize I don't know.

    Hi Miss Nancy, Don't worry about your garage door being open or raking---'tis the season. Glad you liked what I wrote.

    Hi Noelle, very true! There is something that kept it around since the dinosaurs.

    Hi Tatyana, we have winds as well, hadn't thought of it as an issue. (We have more water issues)

    Hi VW, sorry to hear it is such an allergy pain. Enjoy the photos...no sneezing.

    Hi Grace, would love to see you pictures of the Cryptomeria! Great story.
    You mentioned a few of the movies that caught my eye. I like George Clooney...my favorite movie is 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?'...cracks me up. Netflix is the way to go for most!
    Will have to check out your signature.

    Hi Kathleen, it is a striking tree. I hope you didn't take offense to what I said about your panels...keep the fish safe.

    Hi Catherine, it does remind one of a cedar as well. You living in the NW makes us in such different regions...so it is my pleasure to share some 'new' trees with you.

    Hi Rosey, naughty eh? My husband liked that comment.

    Hi Les, I can't imagine you having room for Black Dragon....good luck.

    Hi Randy, Wait until I share about the Bald Cypress...truly an Ah-ha moment! I do like the Ironwood--hope I do it justice for you.

  16. It's a great looking tree! I love that it turns a brownish color in the winter. Too bad it likes well drained soil~~we could use more cool looking evergreens here.

  17. This is a beautiful tree, Janet! I'm impressed that you were able to identify it; I have trouble with identifying deciduous trees, let alone the evergreens. It certainly has an interesting heritage related to the cypress and redwoods.

  18. Hey Janet, I do love this tree. Great in Christmas decorations as well. H.

  19. You are so knowledgeable. I love to look and learn on your blog. And of course there's the mermaid table!

    Janet, I have a "Best Blog" award for you on my blog. There is no pressure to participate though. I know some people do not have the time or just do not accept awards.
    Congratulations you deserve It!

  20. Morning Gail, yes, well drained soil is a benefit for many plants, though given we are in 'swamp weather' hard to believe this one is doing so well.

    Hi Rose, thanks! I have some good books to use as reference...and then there is the internet. It is an interesting hertiage.

    Hi Helen, very true, love to use it in the Christmas decorations.

    Good morning Colleen, I am glad you like my mermaid! It was fun at Thanksgiving, had a few to come who had not seen her...fun watching their faces.
    Thanks for the award. Will go over to your blog later today. You are most kind.

  21. Your neighbor's tree is spectacular! This is one that has been on my 'list' for a long time - since it's a zone 9, I can actually grow it!

    Love, love, love bald cypresses - and have three in my garden. Will look forward to reading what you have to say about them.

  22. Morning Pam, thanks. It gets to be a very large tree. How, three bald cypress? Really cool trees.

  23. This is a great tree. I have heard if you own a large tract of these trees in Japan you are a wealthy person.

    The cultivar 'Yoshino' is a good tree for landscaping and around the yard as are the dwarf types. It is more compact (but still big) and slower growing.

    One way to ID Cryptomeria is by the fact it has two shoots of new growth per year. It is distinctive.

  24. Hi Chris, I know land is very limited in Japan, so it makes sense. Thanks for the additional info on the growth of new shoots.


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