Botanical Name: Cryptomeria japonica 'Cristata'
Common Name: Crested Japanese Cedar
Notable Feature: The eye-catching trait of this conifer is its oddly congested growth of bright green foliage on the tips of many of its branches. These unusual growths are reminiscent of a cluster of cockscombs all glued together.
Habit: The species, Cryptomeria japonica, is a graceful and stately, native evergreen conifer of Japan where it may reach over 200 feet tall. Its cultivar ‘Cristata’ is a much smaller version that is fast-growing, conical and narrowly upright, reaching 25 feet high and 12 feet wide. The ascending branches are stiff and compact with wide, fasciated, cockscomb-like tips that lend a highly decorative appearance.
Flowers: Monoecious (male and female flowers are borne separately on the same tree). Ornamentally inconspicuous in early spring, the male flowers occur in long, light brown catkins in the leaf axils near the branch tips; the female flowers are round, light green with loose scales, and located near the branch tips below the male catkins.
Fruit: Terminal cones, reddish brown, rounded, and ½ to 1” in diameter.
Foliage: Spirally arranged and persisting for 4 to 5 years, awl-shaped, and 4-angled. Bright green in summer and bronze in winter. Interesting cockscomb-shaped fasciation or leaf flattening appears on the branch tips along with its normal foliage.
Bark: Reddish brown and peeling in vertical strips.
Interesting Fact: Cryptomeria (or Sugi) is the national tree of Japan, commonly planted around temples and shrines. The wood is pleasantly scented, reddish pink in color, lightweight but strong, waterproof, and resistant to decay. Wood that has been buried turns dark green and is highly valued.