Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' / Squarrosa sawara cypress

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' is a tall, open, conical tree- or bush-form of sawara cypress with almost blue, partly juvenile, moss-like, crispate foliage. The epithet, "squarrosa" is from Latin, meaning rough, referring to the scaly leaves which spread outward. After 10 years of growth a mature specimen will measure 12 to 18 feet (4 - 6 m) tall, a growth rate of 1.5 feet (1.6 m) per year.

This is a very old cultivar that originated in Japan and brought to Europe, first by P.F. von Siebold in Belgium in 1843, then by J.G. Veitch in the United Kingdom in 1861. It is occasionally seen listed as, Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa Veitchii' after J.G. Veitch.

Attribution from: Aris Auders & Derrick Spicer; RHS Encyclopedia of Conifers; ©2012, Kingsblue Press

Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' a relatively young tree at River Banks Botanical Garden, Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by J. Reimer, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' — a closeup of foliage detail, at River Banks Botanical Garden, Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo by J. Reimer, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' in the Morris Arboretum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The tree was accessioned in 1932, but it was part of the original Morris Estate and so it is older than that.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss
Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' — a closeup of foliage detail. Note the different foliage structure on a single plant.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss
Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa' — a closeup of foliage detail. While some of the foliage is “squarrose,” much is mature.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss

Comments

Karen Swaine

Greetings!
I have an evergreen that was labeled a Compact Silver Cypress: Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Squarrosa Intermedia' — it's now about 18 feet tall (after 16 to 19? years) It's got one main and two smaller trunks.

Questions:
- Was it mislabeled? (It's tall!)
- Should I remove the 2 smaller trunks?
- Is it ok to remove all the lower branches that are in our way as we walk past.
- can this tree be pruned into to a neater conical shape? I hate leaving STUBS.

I'm obviously not crazy about this tree; it's not native, it benefits no wildlife here in NJ (although birds fly in and may stay a minute) — but I am loath to take down any healthy non-invasive tree so I just want to learn how I can appreciate it more. Help!

David Olszyk

Hi Karen ... I think I can help

1. probably not mislabeled. They get pretty big over time.
2. if the two smaller trunks bother you, then you can remove them.
3. if rogue branches are out-of-control, then by all means; prune for shape and form.
4. this cultivar responds well to pruning and shearing. Just don't delve too deeply into the green parts.