The Hinoki falsecypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) is native to Japan. It is an evergreen conifer that grows up to 120′ tall in its native habitat. It has a pyramidal shape and features spreading branches with flattened horizontal branches that droop at the ends. One of the most attractive features is the dark green whirled foliage. Leaves are scale-like with blunt tips, green in color with white X-like lines on underside. Reddish brown bark will peel on mature trees. A smaller variety of this tree is often used as a bonsai tree due to its slow growth. Introduced to the West in 1961. The cultivated forms include some with dwarf habit. In the ‘Crippsii” cultivar bright yellow coloration of the leaves appears only on the outermost branches. The genus name comes from the Greek chamai meaning “dwarf” or “to the ground” and kyparissos meaning “cypress tree”. The specific epithet, obtusa, means rounded in reference to its leaves being blunt/rounded at the tips. In Japan hinoki means “fir tree”
Common name: Hinoki False Cypress
Scientific Name (family and order): Chamaecyparis obtusa (Siebold & Zuccarini) Endlicher (Cupressaceae, Cupressales)
Species Origin: Japan and Taiwan.
New Jersey Status: USDA Unreported
Habit: 50 – 75’ tall by 10 – 20’ wide; narrow conical tree shape, a tall slender pyramid with spreading branchlets and drooping, frond-like branchlets.
Habitat: Zone 5 -8; usually mountain slopes.
Trunk/Stem: Bark red brown, soft , shed in long thin strips.
Leaves: Evergreen, scale-like very small, blunt at tip, dark green above, with bright white X or Y shaped marks where the leaves meet beneath, in flattened, aromatic sprays. There are two leaf sizes: the lateral pair much larger, coat-shaped 1/12” long blunt at the apex with a minute point; the smaller leaf about 1/24” long , triangular with a thickened apex. The sprays are curly.
Flowers: Monoecious. Male flowers reddish yellow; female flowers pale grown in small clusters at the tips of the shoots in spring.
Fruits and seeds: Cones have 8 – 10 scales, round, like soccer ball; ½” wide, green ripening to brown. Scales depressed on the back with a small mucro. 2 – 5 seeds on each scale; seeds convex or nearly triangular on both margins; often with 2 glands, wings narrow, membranous.