James H. Schutte
Plant Common Name
Japanese Cedar, Japanese Cryptomeria
The tall, regal Japanese cedar is a lovely needled evergreen tree native to the open forests of China and Japan. It is admired for its attractive pyramidal to ovoid habit, coarse green needles and straight trunk lined with attractive reddish brown exfoliating bark. Its branches are full and form billowing, cloud-like clumps of needles which make a dense canopy. This is a long-cultivated tree with many unique and distinct cultivars to include variegated and dwarf selections.
The coarse, spirally arranged needles of Japanese cedar are blue-green to bright green through the growing season and turn shades of purplish bronze to brown in winter. Its clusters of small male, or pollen, cones are borne along the axils of the second year branchlet tips and pendulous reddish brown female, or seed, cones are borne singly along the branch tips. The pretty exfoliating reddish brown bark is most conspicuous on the trunks of older trees but is typically obscured by the dense canopy of younger specimens.
Japanese cedar tolerates most well-drained, slightly acid, fertile soils and prefers full sun but will withstand partial shade. This is not a tree for dry or windy spots. When subjected to these stresses specimens look puny and spindly. There are many landscaping applications for Japanese cedar depending on the cultivar. Large forms are excellent evergreens for large-scale screening or massing. More compact selections are ideal for foundation plantings and small-scale landscapes. This is a favorite tree for bonsai. Fungal blight is a common disease problem that can cause branch dieback.
AHS Heat Zone
9 - 4
USDA Hardiness Zone
5 - 9
4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24
Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade
60'-80' / 18.3m - 24.4m
20'-30' / 6.1m - 9.1m
Feature Plant, Foundation, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees, Topiary / Bonsai / Espalier
Sharp or Has Thorns