Chamaecyparis pisifera
Chamaecyparis pisifera
Morton Arboretum acc. 745-27*4
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Gymnospermae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Cupressales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Chamaecyparis
C. pisifera
Binomial name
Chamaecyparis pisifera

Chamaecyparis pisifera (Sawara cypress or Sawara Japanese: サワラ, romanizedSawara) is a species of false cypress, native to central and southern Japan, on the islands of Honshū and Kyūshū.[2][1]


It is a slow-growing coniferous tree growing to 35–50 m tall with a trunk up to 2 m in diameter. The bark is red-brown, vertically fissured and with a stringy texture. The foliage is arranged in flat sprays; adult leaves are scale-like, 1.5–2 mm long, with pointed tips (unlike the blunt tips of the leaves of the related Chamaecyparis obtusa (hinoki cypress), green above, green below with a white stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf; they are arranged in opposite decussate pairs on the shoots. The juvenile leaves, found on young seedlings, are needle-like, 4–8 mm long, soft and glaucous bluish-green. The cones are globose, 4–8 mm diameter, with 6–10 scales arranged in opposite pairs, maturing in autumn about 7–8 months after pollination.[2]

Related species

A related cypress found on Taiwan, Chamaecyparis formosensis (Formosan cypress), differs in longer ovoid cones 6–10 mm long with 10–16 scales.[2] The extinct Eocene species Chamaecyparis eureka, known from fossils found on Axel Heiberg Island in Canada, is noted to be very similar to C. pisifera.[3]


The Latin specific epithet pisifera, “pea-bearing”, refers to the small round green cones.[4]



It is grown for its timber in Japan, where it is used as a material for building palaces, temples, shrines and baths, and making coffins, though less valued than the timber of C. obtusa. The wood is lemon-scented and light-colored with a rich, straight grain, and is rot resistant.[5]


It is also a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens, both in Japan and elsewhere in temperate climates including western Europe and parts of North America. A large number of cultivars have been selected for garden planting, including dwarf forms, forms with yellow or blue-green leaves, and forms retaining the juvenile needle-like foliage; particularly popular juvenile foliage cultivars include 'Plumosa', 'Squarrosa' and 'Boulevard'.[5]

In cultivation in the UK the following have gained the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit[6] (confirmed 2017):[7]


  1. ^ a b Farjon, A. (2013). "Chamaecyparis pisifera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T42213A2962099. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T42213A2962099.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Farjon, A. (2005). Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-068-4
  3. ^ Kotyk, M.E.A.; Basinger, J.F.; McIlver, E.E. (2003). "Early Tertiary Chamaecyparis Spach from Axel Heiberg Island, Canadian High Arctic". Canadian Journal of Botany. 81 (2): 113–130. doi:10.1139/B03-007.
  4. ^ Harrison, Lorraine (2012). RHS Latin for Gardeners. United Kingdom: Mitchell Beazley. ISBN 978-1845337315.
  5. ^ a b Dallimore, W., & Jackson, A. B. (1966). A Handbook of Coniferae and Ginkgoaceae 4th ed. Arnold.
  6. ^ "RHS Plantfinder -". ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 16. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  8. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Boulevard'". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  9. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera Aurea'". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  10. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Plumosa Compressa'". Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  11. ^ "RHS Plantfinder - Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Sungold'". Retrieved 30 January 2018.