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Special Topics

Evergreen Identification

Falsecypress (Chamaecyparis)

Somewhat similar in appearance to junipers, the branchlets of threadleaf falsecypress lack sharp, awl-like needles.Less common than arborvitae, though not at all uncommon in Central New York landscapes are numerous cultivars of the Hinoki, Nootka, and Japanese threadleaf falsecypress. However, because of their wide range of growth habits and leaf forms, they can be a bit tricky to tell apart from arborvitae and some junipers.

The wispy stems of threadleaf falsecypress lack the sharp, awl-shaped needles characteristic of junipers.The green and yellow-green leafed cultivars of the threadleaf falsecypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera `Filifera’ and C. pisifera `Filifera Aurea,’ respectively) are probably the most frequently planted falsecypress in Central New York (at right, above). Their slightly spreading and pointed leaves, at left, cause them to often be incorrectly identified as junipers. However, their long, thread-like stems lack the sharply-pointed, awl-shaped leaves that make junipers so prickly!

Many hinoki falsecypress cultivars are similar in appearance to ur native arborvitae.Meanwhile, many Hinoki falsecypress (C. obtusa) cultivars, at right, look a lot like our native arborvitae. Like arborvitae, their leaves are tightly compressed upon one another, though not nearly as flattened in cross-section. They also lack the glands often found just below the tips of arborvitae Accumulations of wax along the top edges of individual leaves of some Hinoki falsecypress cultivars create small, white "x" patterns.leaves. And, if you look very closely, you’ll often see what appears to be numerous white “X”-shaped markings created by accumulations of wax along the edges of each leaf (arrows in photo at left).

As testament to the variability of this species, one Boring, Oregon nursery lists 34 different cultivars!

Weeping Nootka falsecypress is becoming increasingly common in Central New York landscape plantings.A third increasingly common falsecypress is the weeping form of Nootka falsecypress, C. nootkatensis `Pendula,’ below. It’s leaves tend not to be as tightly as compressed as those of Hinoki falsecypress, nor as long and pointed as threadleaf falsecypress.