Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’
plume cryptomeria

Cuppressaceae (cypress family)
Cryptomeria japonica male and female cones. John Rawlings, 5 Dec 2005

Feathery evergreen conifer with interesting warm-colored fibrous bark and striking bronze foliage in winter. The tiny needle leaves form fluffy thick masses. Examples may be seen on Lagunita Drive between the Faculty Club and Lomita Drive and at the entrance to the Old Chemistry Building on Lomita Drive. A group is at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road, near the Green Room entrance. The general appearance is rather different from that of the standard species which has stiff sharp needles with a roughly triangular cross-section where they join the stem. The needle also runs down the stem a little. The cones resemble redwood cones but are a little smaller and more nearly spherical. Each scale ends in three to five claws and has an additional claw in the middle.

The standard form may be seen at the right side of the driveway at Bolivar House (582 Alvarado Row, planted 1892); a group of three is at Old Chemistry. Giant specimens of Japan’s largest tree are seen at Nikko, Japan. A bit closer to the Bay Area, the State Capital arboretum has a few nice examples.

Name derivation: Cryptomeria – Greek krypto (hidden) and meris (part), referring to the hidden reproductive parts; japonica – from Japan.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. John Rawlings added the State Capital note. Family updated to Cupressaceae Jan 2018 (SP).