Cryptomeria japonica -- Japanese Cryptomeria

Etymology

From the Greek kryptos (to hide) & meris (a part), referring to the concealed parts of the flowers; japonica: of Japan (Coombes)

Common Name

Japanese Cryptomeria

Origin

Japan (large conifer of the lowlands—equivalent to Sequoia sempervirens here)

Family

Taxodioideae

Type

Evergreen conifer tree

ID Features

Stringy, red-brown bark; Awl-shaped needles clasp stem Needles are big & point toward stem New growth is yellow-green; mature growth is grass green; tips turn red in winter Spiny cones hang off branch ends—new branches grow past cones

Size

Mature: 90 – 120’ H, 30 – 50’ S

Landscape: 14 – 24’ H, 10 – 18’ S

Growth rate: Moderate to fast (3 – 4’ per year)

Form

Tall central leader with even whorls of slightly pendulous branches; Lower & inner branches get shaded out & die; If central leader gone, then tree looks shrubbier

habit photo
Cryptomeria japonica habit

Bark & Branches

Stringy, red-brown bark (like Sequoia sempervirens) Trunk has slight flare at base

bark photo
Cryptomeria japonica bark

Foliage

Needles clasp stem; Very awl-shaped, ~ 4-sided, angular needles; Needles are big (7/16 – ¾” long)—about 5 times bigger & coarser than Sequoiadendron; Needles point toward stem; Color: new growth is yellow-green; mature growth is grass green; Winter Color: tips turn red

foliage photo
Cryptomeria japonica foliage

Cones

Cones hang off branch tips (like Sequoia) but bigger (3/4 – 1”); new branch grow past cones; Cones spiny; Sets cones early—5 – 6 years

cones photo
Cryptomeria japonica cones

Cultural considerations

Hardiness

Sunset: 4 – 9, 14 – 24

USDA: 5 – 9

Exposure

Full sun

Soil

Best with lots of organic matter; tolerates clay

Water

Best with wet soil or regular irrigation

Pests

--

Diseases / Problems

Continual dieback of inner & lower branches—messy; easy to remove dead branches by hand with gloves; Winter Leaf Burn (below 18°F)

Pruning

Can top & get more leaders for shrubbier look

Propagation

Seed

Use

Specimen tree; Collector’s item; Often seen in Japanese gardens

Other

Straight species is less common than cultivars

Links

OSU -- Wikipedia

Credits

Photos taken by Jeff Kidder on the PCC Rock Creek campus, unless noted to the contrary.

Much of the text in the plant info was taken from handouts in the Evergreen Plant ID course.