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Cunninghamia lanceolata

Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
kun-ing-HAM-ee-a lan-see-oh-LAY-ta
Description

In its native habitats, China fir can reach heights of up to 150'.  When grown in cultivation, it will not reach those heights, topping out to around 75' tall.  

With its pendulous, spreading branches, this specimen takes on a conical or pyramidal form.  The foliage is in the form of stiff needles that are close and spirally arranged, however appear as if 2 ranked, where the foliage on a stem is arranged in two vertical columns on opposite sides of the stem.  

Optimum growing conditions include well drained loamy soil in a sheltered, sunny location.  

Its bark can range from dark gray to reddish brown with vertical fissures.  As the tree matures the bark will crack into flakes or begin to exfoliate to reveal an aromatic reddish-brown inner bark.

Pruning may be required to keep a neat appearance as dead foliage can remain on the tree for years.  Suckering may lead to several trunks but seldom branches to form a double leader.  As with other tall trees, maintaining one central trunk is the preferred form.

Good green color during the growing season with groups of small squarish cones.  It tends to "brown out" inside as it matures. This plant prefers acidic, clay to loam soils and protection from full sun and wind.  When located in full sun, ensure that the soil does not dry out.

In addition to its medicinal uses, oils from the branches is used in the production of perfume.  Its wood is used various forms of construction and shipbuilding. 

With this species not being winter hardy in northern locations, the cultivar 'Glauca' may be a better choice.  It is more winter hardy.  

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  No serious disease or insect issues.  

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Chason's Gift'
    Compact form up to 40'
  • 'Glauca'
    Blueish needles
  • 'Samurai'
    New growth is powder blue.
'Chason's Gift', 'Glauca', 'Samurai'
Tags:
#evergreen#pyramidal#conifer#winter interest#disease resistant#buffer#children's garden#playground plant#screening#Braham Arboretum#wind pollinated#evergreen tree#wet soils tolerant#winter garden#dry soils intolerant#insect resistant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Chason's Gift'
    Compact form up to 40'
  • 'Glauca'
    Blueish needles
  • 'Samurai'
    New growth is powder blue.
'Chason's Gift', 'Glauca', 'Samurai'
Tags:
#evergreen#pyramidal#conifer#winter interest#disease resistant#buffer#children's garden#playground plant#screening#Braham Arboretum#wind pollinated#evergreen tree#wet soils tolerant#winter garden#dry soils intolerant#insect resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cunninghamia
    Species:
    lanceolata
    Family:
    Cupressaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Timber, reforestation
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central China
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Screening
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Dense
    Erect
    Horizontal
    Pyramidal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Squarish cones in groups of 1 to 3 appear at the ends of the shoots.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    Inconspicuous, cylindrical male flowers and yellow-brown females.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Other/more complex
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are a bright green to blue-green, discoloring during the winter months to bronze-green. The needles are flat with a sharp point on the end.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Shredding
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Irregular
    Bark Description:
    The brown bark on mature trees will experience exfoliating in strips where its reddish-brown inner bark will be exposed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    When the tree is young it is pyramidal, then as it ages becomes open with pendulous branches and often multistemmed due to its suckering habit.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Insect Pests
    Wet Soil