Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cunninghamia - China Fir


Among the very few coniferous trees that can reproduce from stumps; the Cunninghamia are a very small family of trees native to China with only 2 species:

Cunninghamia konishii ( Konishi Fir )
A narrow-pyramidal, very large tree, reaching over 100 feet in height with the Some records include - 10 years - 20 x 13 feet; largest trees recorded being 170 x 60 feet with trunk diameters up to 10 feet. The Konishi Fir can live up to 2000 years.
This tree is extremely endangered with extinction.
The leaves are in rows that spiral around the stem and are up to 2 x 0.5 inches in size. The foliage is less prickly than the more common Cunninghamia lanceolata making it easy to identify.
The cones develop at the stem tips and are brown, small and round opening widely upon ripening.
The bark is reddish-brown.
Hardy zones 8 to 11 ( with reports of 7 ); this tree should make an excellent landscape tree in the southeast U.S. as does Cunninghamia lanceolate listed below which prefers somewhat cooler climates.

Cunninghamia lanceolata ( China Fir )
Native to central and southern China, this fast beautiful evergreen conifer can grow very large. It can grow up to 3.5 feet with a trunk width increase of 1 inch in a single year. Other growth rates recorded include: 15 years - 40 x 11 feet, 25 years - 66 feet with trunk diam. of 15 inches. its eventual size can exceed 100 feet with the record being 200 x 50 feet with a trunk diameter up to 10 feet. The largest in Maryland so far has been 80 x 30 feet in Calvert County. In Pennsylvania; a 70 foot tree grows in Dauphin Co. and across the Atlantic in England the largest planted tree has already reached 102 feet in height. Hershey Gardens and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania both have sizeable trees.
It's sharp tipped linear leaves grow to 3 inches long and are shiny dark green ( blue in the form 'Glauca' )
The cones are borne on the branch tips and are up to 1.5 inches wide. They are sticky while still green.
The attractive peeling bark is reddish-brown.
It is hardy from zone 6 to 9 ( -20 F kills foliage and branches ). The China Fir is drought and very heat tolerant and has no pests or diseases. It grows best on deep, fertile, well-drained soil in sun or part shade. The China Fir is best pruned to a single leader when young. Can be reproduced from seed or cutting and is easy to transplant while small.

* photos taken on May 8 2010 @ McCrillis Gardens, Bethesda, MD

* photos taken on Mar 23 2011 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on Apr 23 2017 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photo taken on Mar 8 2018 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* historic archive photo

'Chasons Gift'
Fast growing and densely symmetrical pyramidal with deep green foliage.

Powdery-blue foliage, otherwise similar.

* photos taken on Feb 2009 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photos taken on 4th of July 2010 @ U.S. National Arboretum, D.C.

* photo taken on Aug 25 2011 @ Scott Arboretum, Swarthmore College, PA

* photos taken on May 7 2014 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photos taken on Nov 19 2016 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photo taken on June 12 2017 in Columbia, MD

subsp unicanaliculata
Very large triangular leaves, up to 2.5 inches in length, are steel-blue.
Otherwise similar.

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