One of the lesser-known of the so-called 'cedars' in the world, Hiba cedar, Hiba arborvitae, or Thujopsis dolabrata, probably has the most beautiful foliage of all, being a glistening, emerald green that is so glossy that it almost looks artificial. The fresh quality of this foliage is hardly ever caught on film and, like Incense cedar, the tree cannot be entirely appreciated unless seen first-hand and up close. 

Hiba is a handsome pyramidal specimen eventually reaching 40 feet and is native to the moist forests of Japan. The shiny green needles with white undersides are born on wider flatter branches than Incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens and Red cedar, Juniperus virginiana. Thujopsis means “like a Thuja or cedar”. Hiba cedar, like many other trees with the common name cedar, is actually not a true cedar. Hiba may have a few qualities of true cedars (genus - Cedrus), they are both evergreen conifers, but aside from that, one would never confuse them when seen side by side. 

Dolabrata refers to the shape of the stomata and means hatchet-like. The bark is aromatic and shreddy and the cones irregularly rounded.

In cultivation Hiba cedar is usually 4o feet tall by 20 feet wide. Being evergreen it is a natural for screen and hedging but it’s really too beautiful not to have a specimen’s position. In addition to being a pretty bright green, the foliage has a unique, ferny texture and the branches, which extend all the way to the ground, have a graceful up-sweep that is lovely. It is tolerant of most conditions except low rainfall. This is a tree of moist temperate forests and mustn’t dry out. It can take some light shade or full sun and grows throughout the UK. It should do well throughout most of the US except for the very hottest and very coldest regions. It seems to be well adapted to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. It is also popular in New Zealand. It’s a tree that is still rare enough to fool most plant experts which also means it is not easily found, but better mail-order nurseries may carry it.



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