21 February 2011

Sugi- Japanese Temple Cedar

 Cryptomeria japonica
'Japanese Red Cedar'
‘Japanese Temple Cedar’

Tree lined path to the
Togakushi Shrine

A member of the Cupressaceae family
  • Native to China and Japan
  • hardy to zone 6
  • an evergreen coniferous tree with a graceful habit
  • pyramidal or conical with a single trunk
  • dense branching when young, developing more clustered, tiered branching with age
  • medium texture

Bark is reddish brown to dark gray, fibrous, peeling off in strips


Remove the brown needles that are at the bottom and inside of the trunk and branches as they are the 'old' needles that shed annually. Make sure to keep it outdoors and in morning sun during the warmer months. The evergreen foliage develops a distinct bronze to brown color during cold months, especially in windy exposed locations.

 The uneven bronzing creates unique layers. Pluck or cut out the inner growth near the trunk.  The Cryptomeria needs humidity, well ventilated humidity also slight shade and to be away from strong winds. Late spring is best time for potting and the container needs to be deeper. Feed with a low nitrogen fertilizer.

Cryptomeria Airlayer

An example of Sugi wood

The wood of Japanese Cedar is particularly rot-resistant and easily worked. It is used in buildings, bridges, ships, furniture, utensils and paper manufacture. In Japan, sugi is one of the two most economically important timber species.
The great sugi of Kayano
estimated the age  to be 2,300 years

Sugi is not a true cedar "Japanese Cedar" is more properly called "Sugi", as in Japan, where the tree originated. Incorrectly called cedars because their heartwood is as aromatic as that of the true cedars, Sugi is the national tree of Japan, and is commonly incorporated into the landscape of temples and shrines.

Jōmon Sugi: the oldest and largest specimen

Under the Cryptomeria after the RainHistoric Print (L): Cryptomeria Avenue, fifty miles long leading to NikkoThe Togakushi Legend Murders (Tuttle Classics)

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