Chamaecyparis pisifera - Sawara Falsecypress
Family: Cupressaceae

Hear the scientific name

Chamaecyparis pisifera is known mainly for its smaller evergreen variants. Sawara Falsecypress are shrubs that have distinctive growth habits and vibrant foliage colors compared to the straight species.

Alternate common name: Sawara False Cypress

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  form2 form Form

-usually a medium- to large-sized evergreen shrub

-the species form, which is rarely available in the nursery trade, is a 60' tall x 20' wide tree, but the small, medium, and large shrub forms commonly available in the trade range from 3'-20' tall x similar widths, depending upon cultivar

-upright pyramidal to pendulous irregular growth habits, depending upon cultivar

-slow growth rate

-a plant whose species form would be unrecognizable to most horticulturists, since the odd-looking cultivars are the exclusive selections in the nursery trade; 2 common types exist:

  • Threadleaf types, which have stringy, pendulous combinations of awl-like or scale-like foliage, of green or golden-yellow color, on broadly spreading shrubs
  • Squarrosa types, with short, fluffy, twisting-needle type foliage that is usually blue-silver, on upright shrubs with a central leader
foliage2 foliage Foliage

-scale-like or awl-like leaves press close to the thready stems (for 'Filifera' or 'Mop' types) or fluffy, short, juvenile-foliaged-type needles stick out from the stems (for 'Boulevard' types)

-"evergreen" although the foliage of many cultivars is yellow, gold, or blue-silver in color


-ornamentally inconspicuous cones


-ornamentally inconspicuous cones


-thin and brown, and often hidden by the foliage

trunk Trunk

-often not seen on the cultivar forms, being somewhat hidden by the evergreen foliage, but exfoliating in thin reddish-brown strips on larger specimens

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-full sun to partial sun

-prefers moist, well-drained, neutral to slightly acidic soils, but is adaptable to poor soils, dry soils, alkaline soils, compacted soils, heat, and drought

-few disease or pest problems

-commonly available in containers or B&B form, with many cultivars


-zones 4 to 8


-native to Japan

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-foliage color variants that are "evergreen"

-variable growth habits for different cultivars


-yellow-foliaged types, which must be placed in full sun for best color, are prone to winter burn without protection from the winter sun and harsh winds

-'Boulevard' has its dead interior needles remain on the stems, which gives an untidy appearance


-focal point, specimen, entranceway, or foundation shrub


-fine texture

-thick density

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-foliage color variant shrubs that are "evergreen" (Abies koreana 'Horstmann's Silberlocke', Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Crippsii', Juniperus chinensis 'Saybrook Gold', Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star', Pinus sylvestris 'Glauca Nana', Thuja occidentalis 'Rheingold', etc.)


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