Chamaecyparis (False Cypress)- Varieties, Facts and Information

Chamaecyparis also known as False Cypress are evergreen conifers that will tolerate some shade. Find facts and information on false cypress tree varieties, and featuring Chamaecyparis pisifera sawara false cypress.

"False Cypress"

Sawara false cypress

General Info on Chamaecyparis 

It is often hard to find trees that will tolerate shade. The fact that Chamaecyparis varieties will grow in some shade makes them well worth growing. This is especially true for people living where hemlocks are in decline. The foliage of Chamaecyparis are very attractive. Most cultivars have tiny scale-like adult leaves arranged in flattened sprays, but young leaves are like little needles.

In the landscape, false cypress stands out for rich-hued cultivars and sensual texture, which ranged from very fine to coarse with strong contrasts of light and dark, depending upon the species. You can shear false cypress for hedges and screens but do not cut into the old wood when trimming. Be on the lookout for bagworms, and if you see their brown conelike egg sacs, destroy them right away.

Chamaecyparis pisifera (Sawara false cypress)


C. pisifera 'Creamball'

Although you probably won’t see the plain species at your local nursery, you will find some shrubby cultivars. Sawara false cypress comes in different colors and textures. Yellow, blue-green, silver, dark green, and variegated green and cream or green and gold are some of your options. Some gold-leafed plants may turn greenish as summer progresses, however. Sawara cypress textures range from threadlike (filifera) to open and ferny (plumosa), or needled and feathery (squarrosa) to plain, like the species. Sawara cypress makes an excellent landscape plant with its aromatic scent.

The foliage is dark green on top with white marks on bottom. The leaves are pressed to the stem in flat, fragrant sprays. The reddish brown bark exfoliate in skinny strips. Let the light reach the whole plant, which is full and branched to the ground. Containerized material transplants better than balled-and-burlapped items. Neither flowers nor 1/4” cones are ornamental.

"Sawara Cypress"

Branch from Sawara cypress tree

Landscape Uses: Use in rock gardens, as accents, lawn specimens, and in groupings.

Origin: Near mountain streams in Japan.

Hardiness Zones: (4) 5-8

Light: Full sun

Soil: Moist, well-drained, acid soils

Growing: Likes high humidity but may brown-out in the middle.

Best Varieties of Sawara False Cypress

Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Boulevard’ is a semi-dwarf cypress with short, gray-blue needles in feathery clusters. Grows 12’h x 5’w.

Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filfera’ is a handsome, semi-weeping variety, with scaly green leaves on skinny, drooping stems. This will grow 6’h x 8’w.

Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Golden Mop’ is a slow-growing variety, with bright gold, thread-leaf leaves that hold color all summer. It is less brassy than ‘Filifera Aurea’. Will be 6’ h x 8’w at 10 years of age.

C. pisifera ‘Cream Ball’ is very hardy, tight, slow-growing dwarf cypress globe with creamy foliage that won’t burn in the sun. About 2’h and w. in Zone 4.

C. pisifera ‘White Pygmy’ has white-tipped leaves on a dwarf bun (a mound of congested branches) often originating from a witches broom. It prefers to grown in partial shade. 2’h x w.

Other Chamaecyparis to Consider:

Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki false cypress, Hinoki cypress)

Chamaecyparis thyoides (White false cypress, Atlantic white cedar)

Chamaecyparis Nootkatensis (Nootka false cypress, Alaska cedar)

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