Foliage of Hinoki-cypress

Hinoki-cypress is a graceful spreading tree with branches that droop at the tips. The small cones and attractive red peeling bark add winter interest.  There are a  number of dwarf and compact cultivars available and add nice accent in the garden. 

This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.


Botanical name:

Chamaecyparis obtusa

All Common Names:

Hinoki-cypress, Hinoki falsecypress, Japanese cypress

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Shrub,
  • Tree


  • Evergreen (foliage year-round)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Hedge,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Screen,
  • Specimen

Size Range:

  • Medium tree (25-40 feet),
  • Small tree (15-25 feet),
  • Compact tree (10-15 feet),
  • Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
  • Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
  • Small shrub (3-5 feet),
  • Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil

Season of Interest:

  • Early winter,
  • Mid winter,
  • Late winter,
  • Early spring,
  • Mid spring,
  • Late spring,
  • Early summer,
  • Mid summer,
  • Late summer,
  • Early fall,
  • Mid fall,
  • Late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Inconspicuous

Shape or Form:

  • Irregular,
  • Pyramidal,
  • Round,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Moderate

More Information:

Size and Form

The species is a 50 to 75 feet high and 10 to 20 feet wide tree with a pyramidal form.
Cultivars vary in shape and size.

Tree & Plant Care

Unique textures and array of foliage colors make cultivars of this species excellent accents in the garden.
best in full sun to part shade in a sheltered area away from high winds.
Tolerant of most soil pH, but prefers a moist, fertile soil.
Avoid wet, poorly-drained soils.
May be difficult to transplant.

Disease, pests and problems

No serious problems, root rots occur in too wet conditions.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Japan.

Bark color and texture 

Reddish-brown bark that peels and sheds in narrow strips.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Alternate,  two needle types, scale-like and flattened branchlets, dark green in color with a white X-like line on underside.
Foliage is aromatic when crushed.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Inconspicuous.  Male and female flowers are not showy, female flowers are located on the tips of branches.

Hinoki-cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)
Hinoki-cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa)
photo: John Hagstrom

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Small, rounded (globose) brown cones on short stalks.

Cultivars and their differences

Blue Feathers hinoli-cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Blue Feathers'): A short, narrow form reaching 12 feet high and 4 feet wide; blue-green needles have a twisted growth habit.

Compact hinoki-cypress  (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Compacta’)6 to 8 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide; upright form.

Dwarf hinoki-cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana'):  1 to 2 feet high and wide; irregularly rounded, dark green.

Dwarf slender hinoki-cypress  (Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Gracilis’): 4  to 5 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide; irregular when young, becoming upright with age.

Location of Chamaecyparis obtusa (Hinoki-cypress) at the Arboretum