Chamaecyparis pisifera

Japanese False Cypress, Sawara False Cypress

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  • Chamaecyparis pisifera

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Min. hardiness zone:
Item ID:

Growing Info

Scarification: Soak in water, let stand in water for 24 hours
Stratification: cold stratify for 60 days
Germination: sow seed 1/4" deep, tamp the soil, mulch the seed bed

Other: stratification improves germination, but is not required, Sporadic germination will occur over a 2 year period 

Chamaecyparis pisifera, also known as Sawara Cypress or Sawara Japanese, is a species of false cypress native to central and southern Japan on Honshu and Kyushu islands. This slow-growing coniferous tree can reach heights of 35-50 meters with a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters. The bark is red-brown and vertically fissured, giving it a unique and visually appealing texture. The foliage of Chamaecyparis pisifera is arranged in flat sprays. Adult leaves are scale-like, measuring 1.5-2 mm in length, with pointed tips, distinguishing them from the related Hinoki Cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) which has blunt-tipped leaves. The leaves of Chamaecyparis pisifera are green above and below, with a white stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf. They are arranged in opposite decussate pairs on the shoots. The juvenile leaves found on young seedlings are needle-like, soft, and glaucous bluish-green, adding to the tree's aesthetic appeal.

Chamaecyparis pisifera is highly valued in Japan for its timber, which is used in the construction of palaces, temples, shrines, baths, and even coffins. Although less esteemed than the timber of the Hinoki Cypress, the wood of Chamaecyparis pisifera is lemon-scented and light-colored, with a rich and straight grain. It is also highly resistant to rot.

In addition to its practical uses, Chamaecyparis pisifera is a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens, not only in Japan but also in other temperate climates around the world, including western Europe and parts of North America. Many cultivars of Chamaecyparis pisifera have been selected for their desirable traits, such as dwarf forms, yellow or blue-green leaves, and cultivars that retain the attractive juvenile needle-like foliage. Some popular cultivars include 'Plumosa', 'Squarrosa', and 'Boulevard'.

If you are looking for a visually striking and versatile tree for your garden, Chamaecyparis pisifera is an excellent choice. Its elegant form, unique bark texture, and foliage color variations make it a standout feature in any landscape. Whether you're interested in its practical applications or simply desire a beautiful addition to your outdoor space, Chamaecyparis pisifera is sure to exceed your expectations.

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