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Thujopsis dolbrata - Growing Guide
Growing Thujopsis dolbrata
This is an attractive slow growing conifer introduced to the UK in the 1860s by Robert Fortune and Veitch nurseries from Japan. Thujopsis is a genus of just the one species and is related to Thuja.
Cornwall has several outstanding examples of mature T. dolbrata which grow at Scorrier House, Tregrehan, Boconnoc and Penjerrick. Some of these are no longer single stemmed trees because the lower branches have rooted themselves into the ground to form huge multi stemmed trees of 50-70ft in height. Southern Irish gardens have even larger specimens and Garnish Island in particular.
At Caerhays our 40 year old tree is still only 20-25ft tall. It has a cylindrical habit with brown bark shredding in grey strips. Its leaves are scale like in four ranks with a central prickle on each cone scale. Here and there on the tree it has odd branches which show a yellowish or white variegation. Bean describes T. dolbrata ‘Variegata’ as ‘a valueless variety soon reverting to the normal green’. However, in our plant, this does add a little extra interest.
T. dolbrata propagates easily from autumn cuttings given bottom heat. We have found it sturdy and robust in easterly gales but our plant grows in dappled shade. This is a forest tree in Japan and the tree produces male and female stroboli on the same tree. We have yet to see any seed cones on our tree.