The cryptomeria is a large tree that can reach a height of 40 metres. Sacred in Japan, it is found throughout the country near many temples.
A member of the Taxodioideae family, this tree (Cryptomeria japonica) is also called "sugi" or the "Japanese cedar".
Japanese gardens, cryptomeria japonica (Japanese cedar). © Corrie Barklimore, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license
The crown of this species is conical, straight and bright green. Its greyish, smooth and fibrous bark tends to shed. The needles of this conifer are arranged in a spiral. Its male yellowish brown catkins, as well as its greenish female catkins are located at the ends of its branches. Its cones are round and brownish at maturity and after a year bear about thirty slightly overlapping scales. White and yellow bumps underneath the scales seasonally release pollen grains.
Cryptomeria first appeared in Japan before being naturalised in China and Taiwan and then in Europe where its smaller varieties are cultivated especially for decorative purposes in gardens.
This species thrives in sun or slight partial-shade sheltered from the wind. It requires soil rich in humus that is well-drained, deep and slightly acid.
In its country of origin the wood of this species is used for the construction of traditional homes.
Author: Michel Caron
Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica Elegans) in the Bambouseraie de Prafance (Gard, France). © Georges Seguin (Okki) GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2