Chamaecyparis formosensis / Formosan cypress

Chamaecyparis formosensis, first described by Ninzo Matsumura in 1901, is commonly known as Formosan cypress, or "hong kuai " 紅檜 (red cypress) and 薄皮 (thin skin) in the Chinese language.


Description. Formosan cypress is a slow-growing, but long-lived and ultimately large to very large coniferous tree growing to 175 to 200 feet (55 – 60 m) tall with a trunk up to 22 feet (7 m) in diameter. The bark is red-brown, vertically fissured and has a stringy texture. The foliage is arranged in flat sprays; adult leaves are scale-like, 0.08 inch (1–3 mm) long, with pointed tips, green both above and below with only an inconspicuous stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf; they are arranged in opposite decussate pairs on the shoots. The juvenile leaves, found on young seedlings, are needle-like, 0.15 to 0.3 inch (4 – 8 mm) long, soft and glaucous bluish-green. The seed cones are ovoid-oblong, 0.25 to 0.5 inch (6–12 mm) long and 0.15 to 0.3 inch (4 – 8 mm) in diameter, with 8–16 scales arranged in opposite pairs, maturing in autumn about 7–8 months after pollination. It is most closely related to the Japanese species, Chamaecyparis pisifera (Sawara Cypress), which differs in smaller globose cones 0.15 to 0.3 inch (4–8 mm) long with 6–10 scales.

Distribution. This species it native to Taiwan, where it grows in the central mountains at moderate to high altitudes of 3,200 to 9,200 feet (1,000 – 2,900 m) of elevation. It is threatened by habitat loss and over-cutting for its valuable timber.

Attribution from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

a very old specimen of Chamaecyparis formosensis in Smangus Taiwan.
Photo by Pellden via Wikipedia
Chamaecyparis formosensis — a closeup of foliage and seed cones, at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and Arboretum in the south of England.
Photo by