Thujopsis dolabrata • Hiba Cedar/False Arborvitae

Thujopsis Hiba Cedar/False Arborvitae アスナロ 翌檜 asunaro

I was looking for some fairly rare rhododendron today (not in bloom yet), that is  described in our Plant List as located ‘by path, north of Thujopsis’, when it occurred to me that this one of the most beautiful ‘cedars’ in the world, Thujopsis dolabrata, is not on the blog yet.  So here it is: this native of moist forests in Japan with dark green and glistening foliage welcomes visitors near path by the very entrance in Area B; the Plant List information on it reads: ’25 feet tall, 4 trunks’.


SJG• 4/21/15 – Thujopsis dolabrata • Hiba Cedar/False Arborvitae, Area B, near the entrance – 4 trunks, indeed


SJG• 4/21/15 – Thujopsis dolabrata • Hiba Cedar/False Arborvitae, Area B, near the entrance – glistening foliage

From wikipedia:  Thujopsis (pronounced “Thuyopsis”) is a conifer in the cypress family (Cupressaceae), the sole member of the genus being Thujopsis dolabrata. It is endemic to Japan, where it is named asunaro (あすなろ). It is similar to the closely related genus Thuja (Arborvitae), differing in the broader, thicker leaves and thick cones. It is also called hiba,[1] false aborvitae, or hiba arborvitae.

A popular allegory for the meaning behind asunaro is asu wa hinoki ni narou (明日はヒノキになろう, lit. tomorrow it will become a hinoki cypress, i.e. the tree looks like a smaller version of the common hinoki cypress).[citation needed] In Japan, other than being called asunaro, it also goes by the name hiba (ひば). There are also a few regional variations, with asunaro being called ate (貴, 阿天) in Ishikawa, and atebi on Sado island.[citation needed]

Thujopsis is a medium to large evergreen tree, reaching up to 40 m tall and 1.5 m trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips. The leaves are arranged in decussate pairs, scale-like, 3–10 mm long, glossy green above, and marked with vivid white stomatal bands below; they have a distinctive thick, almost fleshy texture. The seed cones are ovoid, 7–15 mm long and 6–10 mm diameter, with 6-12 thick scales, brown with a violet-white wax bloom when fresh.

There are two varieties:  Thujopsis dolabrata var. dolabrata. Central and southern Japan. Shoots less densely branched with slightly larger leaves, and strongly thickened cone scales. […]

From Missouri Botanical Garden: […] Noteworthy Characteristics: Thujopsis dolabrata, commonly known as Hiba arborvitae, is a dense, slow-growing, pyramidal, evergreen conifer that is native to moist forested areas in central Japan. Mature trees typically reach 30-50’ tall in cultivation, but grow to 100′ tall in their native habitat. Trees typically develop a conical crown with close to horizontal branching that sweeps upward at the tips. Trees sometime take on a shrubby form and grow much shorter. This monotypic genus closely resembles Thuja (Greek -opsis means resembling), except the branchlets of Thujopsis are broader and flatter and the leaves are larger. Small scale-like leaves appear in flattened sprays held in horizontal planes. Foliage is emerald green above and silvery-white underneath. Globular seed cones are upright. Reddish brown bark exfoliates with age. Specific epithet means hatchet-like in probably reference to the shape of the stomata. […]

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