China fir is a striking conifer though in truth, it is not a fir (Abies) at all, but it is from China. The genus Cunninghamia is composed of one (perhaps two) species of evergreen coniferous trees in the cypress family, Cupressaceae. In addition to China, they are found in Taiwan and northern Vietnam, where they may reach 150 feet or more in height, dimensions not found in the cultivated trees. The general shape is conical with gracefully tiered branches that are pendulous at the tips. Needles (quite sharp ones) are arranged in a flattened spiral around the stem with a pleasant  arch. The overall appearance of the species is exotic, but the Blue China fir, or Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca' is even more stunning. This cultivar’s juvenile foliage is bright whitish blue on the new season's growth, which is soft and inviting to touch but becomes more rigid and lance-like as it matures and turns a dark blue-green, also quite beautiful. But the new-growth blue is so distinctive and intense that it even shows up some of the best Blue spruces, and China firs grow in much warmer climes than any spruce. 

This is one tree that will be a dominant subject in your garden and the center of attention. It is tolerant of most soils and can withstand cold down to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, though it does best in coastal-temperate areas. There is a nice Cunninghamia at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the tree does well throughout most of the UK as well as the US, New Zealand and much of Australia.

China fir


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