Japanese Cedar – Cryptomeria japonica

Japanese Cedar or Sugi
Cryptomeria japonica
Family Cupressaceae
Misnomer – this tree is not a cedar.

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Japanese Cedar - Cryptomeria japonica

These Japanese Cedars were started from cuttings 25 years ago.
"Japanese Cedar" is a misnomer – this tree is not related to the cedars. It is more properly called "Sugi", as in in Japan, where the tree originated. Sugi is the national tree of Japan, and is commonly incorporated into the landscape of temples and shrines.

Trees monoecious, evergreen, up to 50(-65) m tall and up to 300 cm in diameter, with a conical crown and a straight, slender trunk. Bark reddish brown to dark gray, fibrous, peeling off in strips. Branches ± whorled, horizontally spreading or slightly pendulous; branchlets usually pendulous, those of 1st year green. Shoots green, glabrous. Winter buds small, not scaly.

Leaves persisting 4 or 5 years, needle-like, pale green, spirally arranged in 5 ranks, spreading or directed forward, subulate to linear, ± straight or strongly incurved, adaxial and abaxial surfaces convex, rigid, lateral surfaces slightly flattened, keeled, stomatal bands with 2-8 rows of stomata present on all 4 surfaces, base decurrent, apex acute. Leaves on leader branchlets borne at 15-45° to axis, those on short (fertile) branchlets at 30-55° to axis, length (0.4-)0.7-1.4(-2) cm × 0.8-1.2 mm wide (width measured near base of two wider surfaces).

Bark is reddish brown to dark gray, fibrous, peeling off in strips
Sugi can grow very large, indeed, and no one seems to know how old they can grow. The Yaku-sugi of Yakushima Island are probably the largest specimens extant. "Jomon-sugi" is 5.2 meters in diameter and fully 25 meters tall; another is 35 meters tall. It is thought they may be 1,000 years old or more, and that under favorable conditions these trees might reach 2,000. Some have claimed sugi as 7200 years old, but there is no scientific evidence to support this age; it is simply folklore or local exaggeration.

The wood of Japanese Cedar is particularly rot-resistant and easily worked. It is used in buildings, bridges, ships, furniture, utensils and paper manufacture. In Japan, sugi is one of the two most economically important timber species. Outside of China and Japan, the tree is widely planted as a beautiful ornamental tree for specimen plantings. Japanese incorporate them into landscapes of temples and shrines. (1)

Leaves and Pollen Cones

1. The Gymnosperm Database
2. USDA NRCS Plant Guide
3. USDA NRCS Threatened and Endangered species
4. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program.
5. University of Michigan Native American Ethnobotany

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Family Cupressaceae – Redwood, Cypress, Arborvitae, Juniper
There are thirty (many monotypic) genera and 142 species in the family Cupressaceae, now widely regarded as including the Taxodiaceae, previously treated as a family. The Cupressaceae are found in the fossil record as far back as the Jurassic Period, about 210 million years ago. Cupressaceae Index | Tree Encyclopedia | Trees Index