Chamaecyparis pisifera 'Filifera'
Common Name: Japanese falsecypress
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Drought

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade. Prefers moist, fertile soils, but avoid wet, poorly-drained ones. Shelter from wind.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Chamaecyparis pisifera, commonly known as Sawara cypress, is a large, pyramidal, evergreen conifer that grows in the wild to 50-70’ (infrequently to 150') tall with a trunk diameter to 5'. In cultivation, it more typically matures to a much smaller 20-30' tall. It is naive to the Japanese islands of Honshu and Kyushu. Fine-textured medium green needles are tinted white beneath. Cones are small (1/4" across) and ornamentally insignificant, appearing glaucous green during summer before turning black-brown when ripe. Reddish brown bark peels in strips. Species plants are rarely sold in commerce, but a large number of more compact cultivars including some dwarfs are available for purchase.

Genus name comes from the Greek words chamai meaning low growing and kyparissos meaing cypress in reference to the botanical relationship and growth habit of some genus members.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin word pissum meaing pea and ferre meaing to bear in reference to the very small rounded cones.

Three well known forms of C. pisifera are: (1) C. pisifera f. filifera (threadbranch sawara cypress featuring drooping, whip or cord-like branches covered primarily with scale-like adult leaves), (2) C. pisifera f. plumosa (plume sawara cypress featuring feathery, airy and ferny branches covered with part adult/part juvenile leaves) and (3) C. pisifera f. squarrosa (moss sawara cypress featuring branches with soft, needle-like juvenile leaves).

‘Filifera’ is noted for its drooping, medium to dark green foliage. This is a dense, semi-dwarf, evergreen shrub that typically grows as a broad cone. It is slow growing, often reaching only 6-8’ tall in 15 years, but may eventually reach 15’ tall in optimum conditions. Features weeping, thread-like foliage that provides excellent texture and color to foundation plantings. Foliage acquires yellow tones in winter. Small cones appear only on mature plants. Peeling, reddish-brown bark develops on mature branches. This cultivar, as well as other Filifera cultivars, is also often commonly called threadleaf false cypress in recognition of the thread-like foliage.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to juniper blight, root rot and certain insect pests such as bagworms.

Garden Uses

Rock gardens, foundation plantings. Excellent small specimen.