Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Compacta' / Compact Hinoki cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Compacta' is a very old selection of dwarf Hinoki cypress, dating from 1875 in a description written by George Gordon and Henry Bohn in their book, The Pinetum: Being a Synopsis of All the Coniferous Plants at Present Known: With Descriptions, History and Synonyms, and a Comprehensive Systematic Index.

Humphrey Welch and Gordon Haddow present the argument in their 1993 book, The World Checklist of Conifers, that 'Compacta' is used to name several disparate clones of Hinoki cypress. These differences likely crept into the trade due to irresponsible propagation practices, i.e., selecting the strongest cuttings for propagation thereby destroying any dwarf tendencies over time, or simply through mislabeled plants passing through the trade. Regardless, this is a cultivar that probably should no longer be considered for addition to an eclectic collection of garden conifers.

Mature sizes for plants labeled as 'Compacta' range from true dwarfs growing to less than 2 feet (60 cm) tall after 10 years to proper trees that will reach mature heights of 15 feet (5 m) or more. All seem to grow with Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracilis' - type foliage.

This cultivar is thought to have originated in the United Kingdom.

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Compacta' — field-grown specimens in an Oregon nursery.
Photo by Oregon Association of Nurseries