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Portland Nursery

Cryptomeria: Japanese Cedar

Cryptomeria is the national tree of Japan.  It can be found planted at many sacred sites and is also planted on a large scale as a forest tree.  Only one species exists, Cryptomeria japonica.  It grows fast into a very large lofty, pyramidal or conical evergreen tree, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips.  The wood is scented, waterproof, lightweight and strong, so it is used for all types of construction in Japan.

Though only one species of Cryptomeria exists, many ornamental varieties are in cultivation and are very suitable to Northwest landscapes.  Portland Nursery carries a full selection of miniature to full-size forms to fit perfectly into the any garden site.

Cryptomerias are especially interesting because they offer a wide range of color and texture choices.  During winter several varieties have foliage that changes color from green to bronze or burgundy.  Some varieties are soft and plume-like foliage while others have branches and leaves that resemble dreadlocks or ringlets.  Cryptomerias lend year round interest and are an excellent addition to the Northwest garden.

Cryptomeria japonica 'Araucarioides’
Unusual conifer with long branches, single cord like foliage with short needles. At a young age it looks like an oddity, then eventually turn into a tall, open, attractive conical tree to 40'+.
Cryptomeria 'Black Dragon'Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon'
If you are looking for an interesting holiday tree, ‘Black Dragon’ is an excellent alternative to traditional Firs (Abies) and Spruces (Picea).  Incredible black-green foliage clothes a compact conical tree.  Semi-dwarf and slow-growing to 8-10'+.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Cristata' – Cockscomb Japanese Cedar A bizarre curious form of Japanese cedar, having short stout branches carrying cockscomb-like fasciated foliage that appears on growth tips with normal foliage. Narrow tree to 15'+
Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans Compacta'Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans Compacta'
A dwarf form of Japanese cedar, only 6' tall in many years, with a mounded form & excellent coppery purple winter color.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans'Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans' – Plume Japanese Cedar
One of our most popular conifers, ‘Elegans’ has dense, soft, non-prickly juvenile foliage that turns rich copper red in winter, and back to blue-green with bronze tips in spring.  It looks great as a backdrop for white-barked Birch (Betula) or mixed with gold-toned conifers.  Grows into an upright oval shape, about 10-15’ x 5’ in 10 years, maturing at 30’ x 10’.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Mushroom'
A new variety with striking 1" blue-green needles that turn bronze in winter.  Mounding habit, mature at 3’ x 3’.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Pygmaea'Cryptomeria japonica ‘Pygmaea’
Miniature variety with tiny bright green needles that turn bronze in winter.  Very tight, congested habit, growing only 1” per year to 10” in 10 years.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Rasen'Cryptomeria japonica 'Rasen'
Green lves twist around contorted branches like 'spiralis' but much more vigorous - 40' x 20' with open branching habit.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi'Cryptomeria japonica 'Sekkan Sugi'
Creamy yellow new growth with rich green interior - narrow pyramid grows 12”per year, 12' x 4' in 10 years, 25' given time.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Spiralis'Cryptomeria japonica 'Spiralis' – Granny’s Ringlets
Interesting foliage, many needles twist themselves around branches giving a spiral appearance. Not only grown for its curiosity value, but also an excellent shrub. Globose habit develops leader in time – grows 6-10" per year, to 6-8' in 10 years.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Yoshino'Cryptomeria japonica ‘Yoshino’
A marvelous selection Japanese Cedar with rich bright blue green summer foliage. In winter it turns slightly bronze. A fast growing tall tree with a handsome habit. Grows 12-16" per year, to 40-45' tall.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon'

Cryptomeria japonica
'Black Dragon'

Cryptomeria japonica Sekkan Sugi'

Cryptomeria japonica
'Sekkan Sugi'

Cryptomeria japonica 'Elegans Compacta'

Cryptomeria japonica
'Elegans Compacta'


Family: Taxodiaceae

Common Name: Japanese Cedar or Sugi

Native: China and Japan

Foliage: Evergreen, awl-shaped, spirally arranged; 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, curving inward toward twig; green (may be bronze or brown in winter), persistent for several years.

Flowers: Monoecious; females round, light green, with loose scales; males light brown, appearing from leaf axils near branch tips; appearing in early spring.

Fruit: Round cone, 1 inch across, numerous sharp pointed scales giving it a spiny appearance; reddish brown.

Twig: Moderately stout and green for several years, drooping.

Bark: Attractive, vertically peeling in strips, reddish brown.

Size: Upright tree with a narrow crown; typically one straight trunk; finer branches drooping; can reach heights of 1 ft to 60 ft. 

Light: Full sun to part shade

Soil: Fertile moist, but well drained, acidic

Disease: none serious in PNW

Hardiness: Zone (5)6-8(9)