Chamaecyparis nootkatensis

Chamaecyparis

Chamaecyparis is genus of conifers in the family Cupressaceae, native to eastern Asia and western and eastern North America. It is one of several genera within the Cupressaceae that have the common name cypress; for others, see cypress (disambiguation). Synonyms include Retinispora Siebold & Zucc. and Retinospora Carr.

They are medium-sized to large evergreen trees growing to 20-70 m tall, with foliage in flat sprays. The leaves are of two types, needle-like juvenile leaves on young seedlings up to a year old, and scale-like adult leaves. The cones are globose to oval, with 8-14 scales arranged in opposite decussate pairs; each scale bears 2-4 small seeds.

There are five or six species, depending on taxonomic opinion:

C. taiwanensis is treated by many authors as a variety of C. obtusa (as C. obtusa var. formosana).

Another species which used to be included in this genus, as Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, has now been transferred on the basis of strong genetic and morphological evidence to the separate genus Callitropsis as Callitropsis nootkatensis, or back to Cupressus nootkatensis (the name it was originally described under in 1824).

Chamaecyparis species are used as food plants by the larva of some Lepidoptera species including Juniper Pug and Pine Beauty.

Cultivation and uses

Four species (C. lawsoniana, C. obtusa, C. pisifera, and C. thyoides) are of considerable importance as ornamental trees in horticulture; several hundred cultivars have been selected for various traits, including dwarf size, yellow, blue, silvery or variegated foliage, permanent retention of juvenile leaves, and thread-like shoots with reduced branching. In some areas, cultivation is limited by Phytophthora root rot diseases, with C. lawsoniana being particularly susceptible to P. lateralis.

The wood is scented, and is highly valued, particularly in Japan, where it is used for temple construction.

References

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