Platycladus orientalis 'Elegantissima'
Common Name: oriental arborvitae 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 10.00 to 15.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-Flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Colorful, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Grow in fertile, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates some light afternoon shade. Appreciates good air circulation. Water plants regularly in hot and dry weather. In St. Louis, site in locations sheltered from strong winds. Plants may not be reliably winter hardy throughout the northern parts of USDA Zone 5.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Platycladus orientalis, commonly called oriental thuja or oriental arborvitae, typically grows as a dense, conical to columnar tree to 18-25’ tall. Also grows as a large shrub. Plants tend to open up with age. Scale-like yellowish-green leaves in flattened sprays in youth, becoming darker green with age. Foliage may bronze up in winter. Oval cones (to 3/4” long). Reddish-brown bark. Compact shrubby cultivars are much more common in cultivation than the species. Synonymous with Thuja orientalis and Biota orientalis.

Genus name comes from the Greek platys meaning broad and klados meaning a branch for the branchlets being two-ranked in a vertical plane.

Specific epithet means of the Orient.

‘Elegantissima’ is a conical to narrow pyramidal shrub that grows over time to 15’ tall and features scale-like golden yellow foliage in flattened sprays. Foliage becomes yellow-green as the growing season progresses and then acquires bronze tones by winter. This plant is synonymous with and sometimes sold as Thuja orientalis ‘Elegantissima’.


Healthy, well-maintained plants sited in proper growing environments usually have few major problems. Watch for bagworms and spider mites. Scales, aphids, caterpillars, borers and mealybugs may appear. Branches may be broken from snow weight in winter.


Hedge, screen, background or accent.