Content Detail

Its pyramidal habit, loose open branching and scale-like, dark green foliage make the sawara-cypress a notable option for specimen plantings or in groups in a large landscape. Besides its remarkable foliage, this evergreen has handsome reddish-brown bark that peels off in strips and tiny, reddish-brown cones on short stalks.

  • Family (English) Cypress
  • Family (botanic) Cupressaceae
  • Tree or plant type Tree, Shrub
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet), Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Compact tree (10-15 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet), Medium tree (25-40 feet), Large tree (more than 40 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Occasional drought
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Narrow, Pyramidal, Round
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and Form:

Sawara-cypress grows 50 to 60 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide with a pyramidal form. Cultivars vary in size, color, and form.

Native geographic location and habitat:

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture:

Handsome, reddish-brown bark peels off into thin strips.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture: 

Alternate, flattened, scale-like needles grow on horizontal branchlets.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are inconspicuous.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions: 

Tiny, 5/16 inch reddish-brown cones appear on short stalks.

Plant care:

Best grown in full sun to part shade in average, moist, fertile soils. Avoid wet, poorly drained soil. Site out of direct wind. Prefers a humid climate. This plant rarely needs pruning

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

No serious pests or diseases. Sawara-cypress does not tolerate high pH.

Many of these cultivars are smaller, dwarf forms.

Boulevard Sawara-cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’):

 Growing 12 to 15 feet high and 8 to 10 feet wide, this narrow dwarf form has silver-blue foliage.

Cream Ball Sawara-cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Cream Ball’): 

Only 2 to 3 feet high and wide, this rounded, compact, evergreen shrub has dense, soft, light green foliage that occurs as flattened sprays tipped in creamy white.

Soft Serve® Sawara-cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Don Whiting’):

A narrow, columnar, upright habit reaching 10 feet high and 6 feet wide, this graceful cultivar boasts needles that are green with steel blue undersides.

Golden Mop Sawara-cypress  (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’): 

This cultivar is slow growing and only 2 to 3 feet high and wide at maturity. It is a low, mounded evergreen shrub with dense, soft, yellow scale-like foliage in thread-like sprays.

Golden Thread-leaved Sawara-cypress  (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’):

This densely mounded, golden yellow, and finely textured cultivar grows15 to 20 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide.

Plume Sawara-cypress  (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Plumosa’): 

At 30 to 50 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide, this pyramidal plant has a soft, airy texture.

Thread-leaved Sarawa-cypress  (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera’):  

An upright to mounded form growing 8 to 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide, this cultivar has narrow, pendulous, threadlike foliage.


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