Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' / Golden Fern Hinoki cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' is a low-growing, bushy selection of Hinoki cypress with arching sprays of mixed juvenile and adult foliage that taper to points like the fronds of ferns that it closely resembles. In the right environment, its outer juvenile foliage can be creamy-white to gold. The mature inner foliage is light green with bronze-yellow tips.

The plant performs best in moderate sun — but not hot — to partial shade and protection from desiccating winds. After 10 years of growth a mature specimen will measure 2 feet (60 cm) tall and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide, an annual growth rate of 2 to 3 inches (5 - 7.5 cm).

'Golden Fern' is a somewhat unstable cultivar and is known to revert to the larger C. obtusa 'Fernspray Gold' cultivar from which it derived when John Emery of Raraflora Nurseries, Forth, Tasmania, Australia found it in 1980. Because of this aberrant behavior, growers, if they aren't closely watching their stock, can let reverted specimens slip into the marketplace that are no longer 'Golden Fern.'

'Fernspray Gold,' which is an intermediate-growing cultivar, tends to have a strong single or a few stems. 'Golden Fern,' which is a dwarf, is multi-stem, shrubby and low growing. When these larger, fast-growing, more upright reversions emerge, conventional wisdom dictates that they should be removed to preserve the 'Golden Fern' form.

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Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' planted 2012 in central Maine in partial shade.
Photo by Sean Callahan
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger
Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Golden Fern' — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Bill Barger

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