Cunninghamia lanceolata
Common Name: China-fir
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Native Range: Central China
Zone: 7 to 9
Height: 30.00 to 70.00 feet
Spread: 10.00 to 30.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in moist, acidic, well-drained soils in part shade. Tolerates full sun, but soils should not be allowed to dry out. The species is not reliably winter hardy to the St. Louis area where it should perhaps not be attempted, but if attempted, should be sited in a southern exposure protected from winter winds. Branches killed by winter should be promptly pruned out. Cunninghamia lanceolata ‘Glauca’, an attractive blue form, reportedly has better winter hardiness (to –10 F.) than the species and is a better choice for St. Louis.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Cunninghamia lanceolata, commonly called China fir, is an evergreen conifer that is native to forested areas of China and Taiwan where it may reach 150’ in height. In cultivation, it more typically grows to 35-70’ tall with a pyramidal form and tiered, spreading, horizontal branching that is slightly pendulous at the tips. It tends to sucker and often grows in a multi-trunked form. Sharply-pointed, finely-toothed, green to blue-green needles (to 2.75” long) are spirally arranged but twisted at the base to give the appearance of being two-ranked. Foliage may bronze in cold winters. Oval to globose fruiting cones (1.5” diameter) appear in small groups (1-3) at the shoot ends. Brown bark of mature trees exfoliates in strips to reveal reddish-brown inner bark. This is a prized timber tree in China.

Genus name honors James Cunninghame (d. c. 1709), East India Company surgeon at Amoy, China.

Specific epithet means spear-shaped.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Winter hardiness is a problem in the St. Louis area, with problems ranging from tip die-back to loss of tree.

Garden Uses

In warm winter climates, China fir can develop into a very interesting and handsome specimen.