The Moss sawara cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Squarrosa‘) reaches 50 to 70 feet in height. Its leaves, green on top and white streaked below, are scale-like and pressed against flattened branchlets. The trunk bark – smooth and reddish brown – peels off in thin strips. In this variety most of the leaves found on mature tree spays are needle-like, that is the spiny characteristic of the immature plant is retained to adulthood. It grows male and female flowers on the same tree and produces small, globose cones with six to nine soft woody scales. The tree is native to Japan. This Marquand Park #659 specimen may be a cultivar called ‘blue moss sawara cypress.’ Young seedlings have narrow leaves to ¼” long. The plant is pictured on the traditional blue and white “willow pattern” design on pottery and porcelain. Introduced to the West in 1861. The ‘Squarrosa’ cultivar has foliage which is almost needle-like, very feathery, definitely not flat and frond-like; soft gray-green foliage; large plant 30 – 40 ‘. The genus name comes from the Greek chamai meaning “dwarf” or “to the ground” an kyparissos meaning “cypress tree”. “pisifera” refers to the diminutive pea-sized cones.
MP #549, #659. Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘squarrosa’
Marquand Park Specimen Label and Coordinates: MP #549. #659
Common name: Moss Sawara False Cypress
Scientific Name (family and order): Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘squarrosa’ (Cupressaceae, Cupressales)
Species Origin: Japan
New Jersey Status: USDA Introduced
Habit: 50 -70’ tall; 10 – 20’ wide, broadly conical –pyramidal with a loose open habit and numerous branchlets thickly covered with slender feathery sprays.
Habitat: Zone 4 – 8; streambanks in mountains.
Trunk/Stem: Bark red brown, peeling in thin strips.
Leaves: Evergreen, scale-like. Leaves very small with free, pointed tips, glossy yellow-green above with conspicuous white marks beneath in flattened aromatic sprays. Leaves at side of shoots slightly larger than those above and below.
Flowers: Monoecious. Male flowers brownish; female flower pale brown in small clusters at the tips of the shoots in spring.
Fruits and seeds: Fruit, a rounded-cone, like a soccer ball, 1/6 – 1/4” wide matures from green to brown. It appears as a clustered crowd on a short stalk. Scales 6 -10, yellowish brown, soft woody; upper side wrinkled, the middle is depressed with a small mucro at the depression. Seeds 1 – 2 ovoid and bulbous on both sides glandular; broad, membranous wings, notched above and below.