Cryptomeria japonica 'Monstrosa' / Monstrous Japanese cedar

Cryptomeria japonica 'Monstrosa' is an irregular upright bush or small tree form of Japanese cedar with outspread branches and branchlets holding many congested short shoots and persistent cristate dark green needles. Common practice is to prune off the branches as they occur to encourage the growth of the congested branchlets close to the trunk, creating the effect of a green-encrusted pole. Typical rate of growth in most areas is 2 to 4 inches (5 - 10 cm) per year, creating in a strange conversation piece measuring 4.5 feet (1.5 m) tall after 10 years in the garden with variable width dependent on pruning.

'Monstrosa' is an old cultivar that originated in Japan in the early 1900s. Ludwig Beissner formally described and named it in 1909 in Handbuch der Nadelholzkunde, 2nd edition. It is fairly easy to procure in the nursery trade. In The Conifer Manual, volume 1, Humphrey Welch describe this conifer as, "an exceeding coarse, outsize version of Bandai."

Cryptomeria japonica 'Monstrosa' — at at University of Florida Research Station, Quincy, Florida.
Photo by Tom Cox