Platycladus orientalis

Oriental Arborvitae




  • native to Korea, Manchuria and Northern China
  • zone 6, or zone 5 in protected sites

Habit and Form

  • an evergreen
  • a large shrub or small tree
  • dense, conical shape
  • 18' to 25' tall, 10' wide
  • slow growing
  • medium texture

Summer Foliage

  • leaves are triangular scales with a blunt point
  • scales are approx. .05" to .1"
  • scales have a distinct grooved pattern on the back
  • scales are closely pressed to stem sprays, however unlike other similar species the scales are not closely pressed to the stem tip
  • medium green to yellowish color
  • leaves emit an odor when bruised
  • branchlets are arranged in vertical planes

Autumn Foliage

  • evergreen no fall color
  • can discolor in harsh winters


  • not ornamentally important
  • monoecious


  • fleshy, glaucous blue-green color when developing
  • woody horn-like cone when mature
  • medium-brown color


  • shredding
  • brown to gray-brown color


  • transplants well
  • tolerant of most conditions, except does poorly in boggy sites
  • best in full sun; tolerates light shade
  • avoid planting where it will be exposed to harsh winter winds
  • pH adaptable

Landscape Use

  • specimens
  • hedges
  • mass plantings
  • screens


  • spider mites
  • bagworm
  • ice and snow build-up can break branches

ID Features

  • bruised leaves emit odor
  • branchlets arranged in a vertical pattern
  • hard horn-like cones
  • tends to keep green color in winter
  • shredding gray-brown bark
  • distinct groove of back of scales


  • by seed


Dwarf forms include: 'Aurea Nana', a dense globular plant to 10' tall with yellow-green foliage; 'Baker', a dense conical plant to 8' tall; 'Compacta', a compact pyramidal form useful for formal applications; 'Juniperoides', a rounded 3' tall form with blue-gray needles; 'Westmont', a slow-growing bun to 2' tall and wide with yellow-tipped green leaves.

Yellow-foliaged forms include: 'Conspicua' (probably the true "Berckmann's Golden Biota"), a large, upright-growing conical plant with vertical branches of yellow foliage; 'Filiformis Aurea', an upright oval shrub with stringy yellow branchlets.

© 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.