Cryptomeria japonica • Japanese Cedar (area U)

Cryptomeria • Japanese Cedar • スギ •  杉 • sugi

We have several of them in the Garden: one 30′ at the entrance court (area A), plus several different ones elsewhere (areas T, O, M), most notably the dwarf versions (jindai sugi and bandai sugi) in the tea house Garden (area W).  The ones featured in this post are the tallest in the Garden: three very mature 60+ footers bordering the orchard along the western fence (there are another two along the western fence, on the other side of azumaya, in area T).


SJG • 4/11/14 – Cryptomeria japonica • Japanese Cedar, area U
– the three huge trees with big trunks along the western fence (past almost blooming small kwanzan cherries in foreground).


SJG • 4/11/14 – Cryptomeria japonica • Japanese Cedar, area U – leaves and cones

From WikipediaCryptomeria (=’hidden parts’) is a monotypic genus of conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae, formerly belonging to the family Taxodiaceae. It includes only one species, Cryptomeria japonica (syn. Cupressus japonica L.f.). It is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Sugi (Japanese: 杉). The tree is often called Japanese cedar in English, though the tree is not related to the true cedars (Cedrus). […]

It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), from which it can be differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia). […]

Cryptomeria grow in forests on deep, well-drained soils subject to warm, moist conditions, and it is fast-growing under these conditions. It is intolerant of poor soils and cold, drier climates. […]

Symbolism: Sugi is the national tree of Japan, commonly planted around temples and shrines, with many hugely impressive trees planted centuries ago. Sargent (1894; The Forest Flora of Japan) recorded the instance of a daimyō (feudal lord) who was too poor to donate a stone lantern at the funeral of the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543–1616) at Nikkō Tōshō-gū, but requested instead to be allowed to plant an avenue of Sugi, “that future visitors might be protected from the heat of the sun”. The offer was accepted; the avenue, which still exists, is over 65 km (40 mi) long, and “has not its equal in stately grandeur”

From Missouri Botanical Garden: […] It is native to forested areas in Japan and China where it typically grows as a single trunk tree to 150’ tall (infrequently taller) with an 8’ trunk diameter. It is the national tree of Japan where it is often planted at temples and shrines. In cultivation in the U. S., it grows much smaller, more typically to 50-60’ tall. Sharply-pointed, awl-shaped, fragrant, green to blue-green needles (to 3/4” long) are spirally arranged. Foliage is soft to the touch. Foliage may bronze in cold winters. Spherical fruiting cones (to 1” diameter) appear at the shoot ends. Reddish-brown bark exfoliates in strips. […]


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