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Sciadopitys verticillata

(Japanese Umbrella pine)

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Sciadopitys verticillata, first described in 1842 by (Thunberg) Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796–1866) and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini (1790–1848), is commonly known as Japanese Umbrella pine, or as コウヤマキ (koya-maki) in the Japanese language. The English name ‘Umbrella pine’ refers to the whorls of leaves resembling the spokes of an umbrella; the Latin Sciadopitys is a translation of this.

from “Flore des serres et des jardins de l’Europe”

Description. Japanese Umbrella pine is an evergreen coniferous species of tree which will grow to mature heights of  65 to 100 feet (20 – 35 m) tall with a trunk up to 3 feet (1 m) in diameter at breast height, growing single- or multi-trunked. Branching is dense and heavy with luxuriant foliage. Bark is thick, soft, red-brown and stringy. Leaves are of two types, scale leaves on the stems that are brown, 0.04 to 0.12 inch (1 – 3 mm), widely spaced between the nodes on long shoots, and clustered in a tight spiral pseudowhorl. Photosynthetic leaves are variously interpreted as a pair of true leaves fused together, or as highly modified shoots (cladodes). They grow linearly, in pseudowhorls of 10 to 30 at the shoot nodes and are , 2.5 to 5.5 inches (6 – 13 cm) long, 0.08 to 0.12 inch (2 – 3 mm) wide and 0.04 inch (1 mm). They are thick, heavy, fleshy, pliable, with a prominent mid-line groove on both sides; rich glossy green in color with a pale stomatal line on each side of the mid-line groove on the underside. They persist 3 to 4 years on the tree before being shed. Pollen cones are 0.24 to 0.5 inch (6 – 12 mm) long, growing in dense terminal clusters 0.4 to 0.8 inch (1 – 2 cm) across. Seed cones are ovoid, green when young ripening dark brown in 18 to 20 months after pollination. They are 1.8 to 4 inches (4.5 – 10 cm) long, 1.4 to 2.6 inches (3.5 – 6.5 cm) wide when open. They are fragile and break up soon after seeds are released.

native range of Sciadopitys verticillata

Distribution. This species is native to Japan — southern Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku, growing in mixed middle altitude cloud forest forests at elevations of 1,500 to 3,200 feet (500 – 1,000 m) above sea level, with high rainfall and humidity. It forms old-growth forests with Chamaecyparis obtusa. Seedlings can regenerate beneath the forest canopy, although small gaps with exposed mineral soils constitute preferred establishment sites.

Attributed from: Chris Earle, The Gymnosperm Database, ©2012

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