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Friday, December 30, 2011

Chamaecyparis obtusa - Hiniki Cypress

Hinoli cypress trees are not very common here, too bad, they are beautiful evergreen conifers. The species is a large tree perhaps to 60' but you are unlikely to encounter one. There are at least 100 cultivars and most are dwarfs. Generally will see plants in the 10-20’ range, by about 5-10’wide. Some are open, others more compact.  All are very attractive. A golden one is ‘Crippsii’.

The evergreen leaves are scale-like of two sizes. They give them different names due to the way they are attached to the stems. The facials are smaller than the laterals. Laterals wrap around the stems and can be seen from both sides of the flattened stems. The facials are facing you and are in full view. White stomatal areas obvious on lower surface.  May resemble small X’s or barbells with X's on the ends.

Stems grow in fan-like sprays unlike the elongated sprays of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana. Chamaecyparis species are more oval than round and this is why they have facial and lateral leaves.

Male and female stroboli "flowers" are very small, you can see the remnants of the males in the picture above, and the female below.

Cones are 3/8" round with peltate scales. They look bigger in this image than they really are.

Bark is typical of this family, and is stingy and fibrous.

A common selection of this species in the area is C. obtusa filicoides which is found in green or yellow foliage varieties. The foliage is arranged in fern like sprays and not rounded like the normal C. obtusa. 

Misidentification: Look for the smaller woody cones and the lower side of the branchlets having the distinct white X's. Not exclusive of this species but the small cones and the flatted sprays will help.

Locations: To be honest they are not that common, several at Cabrillo College on the "lower campus",
A nice one on the corner of Chestnut and Center in SC.

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