9 Sep 2010

Sugi on the island of Yakushima


Cryptomeria is a monotypic genus of conifer in the cypress family Cupressaceae formerly belonging to the family Taxodiaceae; it includes only one species, Cryptomeria japonica (syn.: Cupressus japonica L.f.). It is endemic to Japan, where it is known as Sugi (Japanese: 杉). The tree is often called Japanese Cedar in English, though the tree is not related to the cedars (Cedrus). In Darjeeling district and Sikkim in India, where it is one of the most widely growing trees, Cryptomeria japonica is called Dhuppi and is favoured for its light wood, extensively used in house building. It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), from which it can be differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia). Sugi (and Hinoki) pollen is a major cause of hay fever in Japan.

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