Chamaecyparis pisifera

Sawara Falsecypress, Japanese Falsecypress




  • native to Japan
  • zone 4

Habit and Form

  • evergreen with a open loose habit
  • numerous branches gives a dense appearance
  • 50' to 70' in the landscape; 120' tall in the wild
  • 10' to 20' wide
  • medium growth rate
  • fine to medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • appressed scale leaves
  • long pointed with slightly spreading scale tip
  • flattened along stem arranged in horizontal pattern
  • scales are 2-ranked and have white lines on underside
  • dark green to yellowish color

Autumn Foliage

  • no autumn color
  • tends to brown in winter


  • not of ornamental importance
  • monoecious


  • small pea-like cones, with only 6 to 8 scales
  • found on short stalks, clustered at branch tips
  • medium brown in color
  • cone scales are soft and wrinkled


  • shredding red-brown bark


  • moist, loamy soil
  • needs a well-drained site
  • best in full sun; tolerates light shade

Landscape Use

  • mass plantings
  • screen
  • park tree


  • does not do well in alkaline soil

ID Features

  • scale like leaves
  • white lines on underside of scales
  • pea-like cones
  • shredding bark
  • scales tend to broaden at tip


  • by cuttings


'Boulevard' - A large shrub or small tree with soft, needle-like foliage (juvenile form) that is heavy-textured and blue-grey in color. Plant form is upright and pyramidal, ultimately reaching perhaps 25' tall. Plant may open up with age, revealing dead brown growth in the interior which is retained for a long period. Often unattractive in the long-term.

'Filifera' - Very similar to species, expect the foliage is arranged in long, string-like branches covered in scales. These branchlets are pendulous and lend a graceful, fine texture to the plant. This form also tends to be smaller at maturity than the species, perhaps 20'-25' tall.

'Filifera Aurea' - A golden-foliage form of 'Filifera'. It does not grow quite as large as 'Filifera' and is often much more shrubby in habit. 'Gold Spangle' is similar, but probably maturing larger. These forms are among the most common in commerce.

Other dwarf forms with yellow foliage include 'Gold Spangle', 'Aurea Nana' and 'Mops'.

Many miniature cultivars, often maturing at less than 1', are available from specialty nurseries for enthusiasts.

© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.