JAPANESE CEDAR or sugi (Japanese) are the common names for this large and beautiful conifer native to Japan. This specimen is found at Blake Gardens in Kensington, California, and is the cultivar 'Elegans,' which has reddish foliage, especially in the fall. The fibrous bark is comprised of long, reddish strips which have no pitch and resist burning. It is related to coast redwood and giant sequoia, and like them, rot resistant and long-lived.
The National Tree of Japan
Cryptomeria japonica, known in Japanese as sugi, is the national tree of Japan.
The Cedar Avenue of Nikko is a street lined with approximately 13,000 cryptomeria trees and is over 20 miles long. It may be the longest tree-lined avenue in the world. Perhaps this is the most famous avenue of cryptomerias, but there are many other avenues and groves in Japan, and sugi is frequently found at shrines and sacred places.
The Cedar Avenue of Nikko is both a natural and cultural national monument. The trees were planted approximately 400 years ago. This monumental project required about 20 years to complete, and it is estimated that some 200,000 cedars were planted at this time.
Cryptomeria can grow to 150 feet and attain huge girth. They can be very long lived; ring counts of over 1500 years have been found.
Cryptomeria Avenue (Sugi Namiki)
by Hiroshi Yoshida (woodblock print, 1937).
This avenue is in Nikko; it leads from the
Sacred Bridge outside Nikko to the
Nikko Toshogu Shrine Complex.
Walking in the Berkeley hills, I saw this tree and had a flash of recognition, sorta. Yet could not identify it positively. Got the app PlantNet Plant Identification, posted the photo at left, and tree was identified as Cryptomeria japonica. Realized that the only specimen I'd seen was the cultivar 'Elegans', photographed above, which has reddish leaves. Nor had I seen the cones.
The green foliage really threw me.
Yellowish pollen cones and last year's seed cones. Photo taken in March.