Sawara Cypress Chamaecyparis pisifera, also known as just Sawara, is a conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae, native to central Japan. It is a slow-growing tree which grows to 35 m tall with a trunk up to 1 m in diameter. The bark is red-brown. The leaves are scale-like, 2-4 mm long, with pointed tips (unlike the blunt tips of the leaves of the related Hinoki Cypress C. obtusa), green above, green below with a white stomatal band at the base of each scale-leaf. The cones are globose, 4-8 mm diameter, with 6-10 scales arranged in opposite pairs.
A related cypress found on Taiwan, the Formosan Cypress C. formosensis differs in longer ovoid cones 6-10 mm long with 10-16 scales.
It is grown for its high quality timber in Japan, where it is used as a material for building palaces, temples, shrines and baths, and making coffins. The wood is lemon-scented and light-colored with a rich, straight grain, and is highly rot resistant.
Foliage of the juvenile cultivar 'Boulevard', with soft feathery needle-like leaves
It is also a popular ornamental tree in parks and gardens, both in Japan and elsewhere in temperate climates including western Europe and parts of North America. A large number of cultivars have been selected for garden planting, including dwarf forms, forms with yellow or blue-green leaves, and forms with juvenile needle-like foliage; particularly popular cultivars include 'Plumosa', 'Squarrosa' and 'Boulevard'.
- Arboretum de Villardebelle: close-up photo of cones (http://www.pinetum.org/cones/CHpisifera.jpg)