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Woody > Chamaecyparis > Chamaecyparis obtusa > Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Contorta'

Chamaecyparis obtusa


Contorted Falsecypress

Origin:  Horticultural origin. In 1945, it was raised from the seed of Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Nana Gracilis' by the Den Ouden Nursery, Holland.
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A compact and visually appealing dwarf conifer; the Contorta Hinoki False Cypress is a unique specimen for most gardens. Naturally resistant to many pests and diseases, this plant will thrive when protected from wind and root desiccation. The scale-like foliage swirls along twisted branches in such a way that it appears individually sculptural, and cannot be duplicated. This ensures each Chamaecyparis obtusa 'Contorta' remains unmatched by the next, creating a superlative choice for landscape use.

Michael Pascoe, NDP., ODH., CLT., MSc. (Plant Conservation)


Shrub (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
0.5–2 m
0.5–2 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
A slow growing and low growing dwarf conifer that is naturally pest resistant, this plant does well when it is protected from wind and desiccation. The twisted fans of dark green, scalelike foliage are contrasted with frosty undersides.
A unique and interesting accent plant or specimen, this dwarf conifer is easily trained as a bonsai. It can also be used as a small hedge or screen, in rock gardens or small spaces.
This dwarf will accept full sun to partial shade, and although it requires a well drained soil, it prefers moist conditions and should not be dried out. Protection from the wind must be provided along with a layer of mulch in preparation for winter. Pruning should also be done in the winter if needed, but may not always be necessary.
An upright and conical, low growing dwarf that shows only 30 cm between the canopy and the ground.
ID Characteristic
Low growing and multi-stemmed, this conifer has dense foliage that clumps along many twisted branches adding to the bonsai-like appearance.
There are no significant pests or diseases for this dwarf, though it can easily dry out if not protected from the wind. Mulch for the winter months also helps prevent desiccation.
Bark/Stem Description
The bark is coarse, chestnut coloured, and holds no ornamental qualities.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
The buds are 1–3 mm in size and brown in colour.
Leaf Description
The foliage consists of many compact, scale-like fans that intertwine and create a matchless, sculpted appearance.
Flower Description
A conifer that rarely produces flowers, these rare sightings have been described as very tiny, singular, and have a subtle yellow colour.
Fruit Description
A rare finding on this dwarf conifer, though it has been observed bearing extremely small cones that appear as brown tips to the scale-like foliage.
Colour Description
The scale-like fans are dark green and have a silvery or whitish underside. Since the foliage swirls upon the contorted branches, the undersides are often shown and the dwarf is given a frosted look. Fans emerge as a light green in the spring and become bronze in fall, though the fall colour is not exceptional.
Texture Description
It is made up of very dense, scale-like foliage that gives a wavy, sculpted look.
Notable Specimens
Whistling Gardens, Wilsonville, Ontario, Canada.
Little information is given about the techniques used to propagate this conifer, although the similar Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ is propagated by softwood cuttings taken in June-September, or it is grafted by scion in January-March.
Dirr, Michael A. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Champagne, IL: Stipes Publishing L.L.C., 2009. Print.