Sciadopitys

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Sciadopitys
Temporal range: Middle Triassic to Recent
Sciadopitys verticillata
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Sciadopityaceae
Luerss.
Genus: Sciadopitys
Siebold & Zucc.
Species: S. verticillata
Binomial name
Sciadopitys verticillata
Sciadopitys verticillata foliage

Sciadopitys, the Japanese Umbrella-pine, is a unique conifer. It is endemic to Japan, and the sole surviving member of the family Sciadopityaceae. It is a living fossil with no close relatives: its fossils date from 230 million years ago.

It is an evergreen tree that can grow 15-27m tall. Its brown main shoots have whorls of 7–12 cm long flexible green cladodes. These look like, and perform the function of, leaves but are actually composed of stem tissues; occasionally, a cladode will be forked and produce a bud in the 'v' of the fork.

The cones are 6–11 cm long, mature in about 18 months, and have flattish scales that open to release the seeds.

It is a very attractive tree and is popular in gardens, despite its slow growth rate and high cost. Koyamaki was chosen as the Japanese Imperial crest for Prince Hisahito of Akishino, currently third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The plant was first introduced to Europe by John Gould Veitch in September 1860.[1]

Infrared microspectroscopy has identified conifers of the family Sciadopityaceae as the principal source of Baltic amber.[2]

References[change | edit source]

  1. James Herbert Veitch] title=Hortus Veitchii (2006 reprint). Caradoc Doy. pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-9553515-0-2.
  2. Wolfe A.P. et al. 2009. A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic amber. Proc Biol Sci. 276(1672):3403-12. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0806 PMID 19570786