Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’

Young Sekkan Sugi

If you saw this scrawny little Japanese Cedar at the nursery, you probably wouldn’t look again.  It’s top-heavy, oddly shaped and strange.  Not the perfectly symmetrical conifer that most people are looking for.  But if you waited a few years you would be in for a real treat, for this ugly duckling will  transform into a swan!  A graceful and full Japanese Cedar with a beautiful dusting of brightness on the tips that is makes it a magnificent focal point in the garden.  The first time I saw the tree pictured below I was immediately drawn to it.  I ran my hand over the course foliage, I admired the knobby cones scattered throughout the tree and I just had to stop and stare at the colors that seemed to rain down upon the tree.  A creamy white was dripping off all the branches.  So pretty!  Once I learned the name of this Japanese Cedar, Cryptomeria japonica Sekkan Sugi, I began to learn more about it and to look for it in the landscape.  Alas, this variety is not as common as a Emerald Green Arborvitae or Leyland Cypress, but it does show off it’s royal branches in the occasional yard.

Just the Facts

Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’   Sekkan Sugi Japanese Cedar
Height 20ft (6m) in ten years  Vigourous grower
Evergreen    Pyramidal Shape
Needles bronzy purple in cold weather
Moist, well-drained acid soil
Full Sun to part shade
Reddish-brown attractive bark

Mature Sekkan Sugi

This flock of birds was chattering and flying through Sammamish when I happened to spot them on a fountain as they stopped for a drink.  I think they are Red Crossbills.  They were so cute!

A Flock of Red Crossbills

10 thoughts on “Cryptomeria japonica ‘Sekkan Sugi’

  1. I have two of these beauties but have recently noticed that one of them has browning needles at the base of the trunk and as time goes on it’s spreading to the lower branches. ………….the other is perfectly fine. I’d sure appreciate some help with this situation.

    1. Hi Lois, Sekkan Sugi are such beautiful trees, I hope yours can be saved. It’s always hard to diagnose without seeing the real plant, but one guess would be a root rot caused by Phytophthora. The affected tree has symptoms similar to drought stress, because the roots are dying and not able to absorb water and nutrients in adequate amounts. Another sign of this disease is that the branches always die from the ground up, not from the tips down. Phytophthora thrives in damp soil and you can’t get rid of it. Your only options are to remove the dead branches if only a few or more likely, remove the entire tree and plant something that is not susceptible to this soil born pathogen (there is a good list at I always like the bald cypress, ‘Peve minaret’ which is safe in Phytophthora soil. So this is only a possibility, keep doing some research and maybe you’ll find it’s something else altogether. Horticulture is a mysterious science!

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