Microbiota decussata
Common Name: Russian arbor-vitae 
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Siberia
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.50 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 12.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest


Easily grown in average, moist but well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best performance is in cool summer climates. Prefers some afternoon shade in the hot and humid St. Louis summers.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Microbiota decussata, commonly called Siberian cypress or Russian arborvitae, is a dwarf, evergreen conifer that forms a shrubby ground cover to 8-12” tall with indefinitely spreading stems that nod at the tips. May spread to as much as 10-12’. It is native to mountainous areas of southeastern Siberia. Feathery, soft-textured, scalelike (infrequently awl-shaped) foliage is arranged in flat, fan-like sprays reminiscent of arborvitae (Thuja). Plants also resemble in habit some of the horizontal junipers. Foliage is bright green in summer changing to bronze-purple in fall and winter. Fruits are tiny, spherical, berry-like cones (to 1/4” diameter) with woody-like scales.

Genus name comes from the Greek micro meaning small and Biota an obsolete name for Platycladus.


No serious insect or disease problems.


Ground cover for banks and slopes. Specimen or ground cover for rock gardens, shrub borders or foundations. Is more shade tolerant than and is an interesting alternative to ground cover junipers.