Cupressaceae (cypress family) Platycladus

Platycladus orientalis Oriental arborvitae

China, Korea
Thuja orientalis (syn.)
Oriental arborvitae
Winter quarter 2017 starts with a drizzly day. Stately Oriental arborvitae flank the view from the front steps of the Quad across the Oval to the Canary Island date palms of Palm Drive. Sairus Patel, 7 Jan 2017
Immature seed cones of Oriental arborvitae at the front entrance to the Quad. Sairus Patel, 19 Jul 2017

As with American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), many varieties are cultivated ranging from extreme dwarf forms 2 to 3 feet tall to very fancy shapes and colors. The flat leaf sprays are disposed in vertical planes. When ripening, the cones may exhibit a luminous blue bloom that attracts attention; when crushed, they have a pleasant fragrance.

There are many old neglected specimens on campus, for example between Museum Way and Campus Drive. These are mostly stunted, presumably because of the lack of summer water, but they clearly possess ability to survive. Six more recent specimens flank three sets of steps leading up to the Main Quad from Serra Mall. Five of them are variegated in color; the sixth is different.

Mature seed cones of Oriental arborvitae, Galvez Street. The scales have spread wide at this stage; note the hook-like structures just below the tip of each scale. Sairus Patel, 7 Mar 2020
Platycladus orientalis (syn. Thuja orientalis)
From: Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino, An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees

Illustrations: cone comparisons of Thuja species.

Name derivation: Greek platys, broad, klados, branch, referring to flat leaf sprays; Thuja – Greek name thuia for a type of juniper; orientalis – eastern.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.