Botanical Name: Sciadopitys verticillata
Common Name: Japanese Umbrella Pine
Notable Feature: Derives its common name from the umbrella-like whorls of needles that grow at the end of the branches, radiating outward like the ribs of an umbrella. Has an attractive, reddish-brown, exfoliating bark.
Habit: A slow-growing, evergreen conifer, maturing to 90 feet in the mountains of Japan, however under cultivation reaching 25 to 30 feet tall in about 100 years.
Flower: Species is monoecious; male flowers are 1/3” long in dense terminal clusters, reddish to yellow-green; female flowers are light green, egg-shaped, and 1/3” long.
Fruit: Female fruiting cones are 2 to 4” long with thick scales, emerging green in the first year and ripening to brown in the second year.
Foliage: Two to 4-inch long, flat needles occur in dense whorls near the end of branches. Shiny dark green above with a single bluish line beneath. The unusual arrangement of the needles gives the appearance of an umbrella frame.
Interesting Fact: A living fossil with no close relatives and known in the fossil records for about 230 million years. Infrared microspectroscopy has identified conifers of this family as the principal source of Baltic amber rather than, as previously thought, by members of the Araucaria and Pine families.