Lust List: Japanese Umbrella Pine

The Japanese umbrella pine isn’t a pine; it’s Sciadopitys verticillata, and like the ginkgo tree it has a prehistoric history. You can read all about it in this article from the University of Arkansas and this article from

What it is, though, is stop-in-your-tracks gorgeous. Yes, that’s the correct botanical term. Those crazy upside-down umbrellas of long, flattish, whorled needles are highly decorative, and should be sited where they can be admired up close.

As slow-growers (it will take 100 years to reach its mature height of 25-40 feet), these trees well suited to small gardens, especially if you can provide it with moist but well-drained acid soil with protection from drying winds.

This one is stopping foot traffic in an East York garden, and looking dramatic against dark Japanese maple foliage. Wish it were at my house, but I have too much shade, too much sand, and not enough moisture. Story of my sad, sciadopitysless life.


  1. Oh, that's one I've loved in other people's gardens for years. It is so lovely, especially when it's reached full size!

  2. I was lucky enough to come across a "stop-in-your-tracks gorgeous" Japanese Umbrella Pine just last week. It really is beautiful and now sits on the top of my must-have list.

  3. Glad you all liked it as much as I do. By coincidence, I came across a fully mature specimen this weekend in the Halifax Public Garden in Nova Scotia. As the tree ages, its upward-growing needles become a little more loose and pendulous. However, it's still quite the tree.

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