Chamaecyparis obtusa / Hinoki cypress

Chamaecyparis obtusa, as described in 1847 by (Siebold et Zuccarini) Stephan Friedrich Ladislaus Endlicher (1804–1849), in Synopsis Coniferarum, 63rd edition, is commonly known as 檜 or 桧 (Hinoki or Finuchi) in the Japanese language or simply Hinoki cypress or false-cypress. The epithet references the blunt (or obtuse) foliage tips.

There are two recognized varieties:

For more taxonomic data, please refer to the Tropicos entry for this species.


Description. Hinoki cypress is an evergreen coniferous species of tree in the Cupressaceae family which grows to mature heights 130 feet (40 m) tall with a 10 foot (3 m) trunk diameter, measured at breast height.

  • Trunk is straight, bark reddish brown, fibrous, and fissured into thin strips.
  • Branchlets are slender and closely arranged in one horizontal plane.
  • Foliage is subulate on seedlings, then scale-like, densely imbricate, closely appressed, dark green above, with white marks beneath The apex is obtuse and often keeled.
  • Seed ones are globose at maturity , 0.3 to 0.5 inch (8 - 12 mm) in diameter, with 8-10 scales , each scale smoothly rounded and minutely mucronate, the apical pair of scales fused.
  • Seeds about 0.12 inch (3 mm) long, narrowly winged, and about 0.16 inch (4 mm) in diameter.

Distribution. This species is native to southern Japan.

For more pictures of mature plants in nature or large public gardens, please refer to the TreeLib entry for this species.

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

Chamaecyparis obtusa, Hinoki Cypress, Tanzawa Mountains, Japan
Photo by Σ64, via Wikipedia commons
Chamaecyparis obtusa — photographed by David in his Kansas garden, USA during October of 2006.
Photo by David Stegmaier



Cham. ob. 'Gracilis' - green & yellow forms:
In the trade, I've seen 'Aurea', 'Aurea Nana' (not in ACS list), 'Gracilis Aurea', 'Gracilis Aurea Nana' (not in ACS list), 'Compacta', 'Gracilis Compacta' (not in ACS list), etc..
Am I correct to assume that if it's not in the ACS list, it's not a legitimate name?
Thank you, Phin Tuthill

Maxwell Cohn

Hi Phin

C. obtusa 'Gracilis' is described as green. A yellow form has nutrition issues, or is something else incorrectly named.

'Aurea Nana' = 'Nana Aurea'
'Gracilis Aurea Nana' = not such thing.
'Gracilis Compacta' = an attempt by Weston Nursery and Daystar Nursery (Massachusetts) to coin a cultivar name in 1982. Illegitimate name if published after 1959.

Phin asked, "Am I correct to assume that if it's not in the ACS list, it's not a legitimate name?" ... Absolutely not! I cross-reference every name with at least 4 different highly regarded references.

Hal Crossett

Does anyone have a source of the species tree? No cultivars, the original tree grown in Japan and used for lumber...

Carter Wilkie

Hal - were you able to find a find a source for the species?