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Woody > Glyptostrobus > Glyptostrobus pensilis > Glyptostrobus pensilis

Glyptostrobus pensilis

Chinese Water Pine

Origin:  Before the Pleistocene ice ages, it had covered the Northern Hemisphere with fossils being found in North America. Found now only in secluded places in the provinces of southeastern China and remote parts of Vietnam and Laos.
            Mike's Opinion

this is Mike


Glyptostrobus pensilis is a beautiful oddity, while this critically endangered pine has many names which may be confusing to some, one thing remains clear, this is a tree that not just lives but thrives in water. Its rarity, distinctive bark and aerial roots gives this tree and ominous and ancient feel.

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


Tree (evergreen)
USDA Hardiness Zone
Canadian Hardiness Zone
RHS Hardiness Zone
Temperature (°C)
Temperature (°F)
15-30 m
10- 15 m
Description and Growing Information
Flowering Period
General Description
Pyramidal evergreen tree with straight spreading branches. Notable for needles turning golden brown in autumn while remaining on the tree. Able to produce aerial roots because of its native growing environment in floodplains.
Used as a wind-break as well as for erosion control.
Roots must never be allowed to dry out completely. Tree thrives in rich soil with neutral pH and loves having wet feet. Full sun is a must, it does not grow well in shaded areas. Somewhat of a 'hog' in that the roots take up a large amount of the surrounding land.
Upright and pyramidal.
ID Characteristic
Recognizable from its buttressed crown that can be more than a metre thicker than the trunk itself. Single needles have scale leaves at the base of branchlets and turn a light shade of brown in autumn with the ends bearing small cones.
Usually pest and disease resistant.
Always found near water and full sun, in wetlands and flooded areas. Due to over-cutting, now a rare or possibly extinct tree in the wild.
Bark/Stem Description
Vertical cracking appears throughout the plant, older bark looks exfoliating due to its peeling effect. Beige is the primary bark colour, however, the peeling bark reveals a reddish underside making the bark appear tinged with red.
Flower/Leaf Bud Description
Ovulate, reaching 1.5 cm in length. Sticky and pollen covered when young, browning with maturity.
Leaf Description
Young needles are scale like and overlapping, becoming single needles up to 5 cm when mature. Green in spring and summer, the needles slowly become golden-brown as autumn approaches.
Flower Description
Being a coniferous tree, this plant does not produce showy flowers. Green when young and turn brown as they mature.
Fruit Description
Cones are obovate, 2-3 cm long by 1-1.5 cm wide. Bracts are triangular and flattened, 3-8 mm long. Seeds are small and brown with the basal wing reaching 8 mm.
Colour Description
Overall it has a lot of colour for a pine tree. Bark has beige colouring streaked with the red from the cambium. Young shoots are bright green, darkening with age. Needles green through spring and summer turning into light brown late into summer and autumn.
Texture Description
Tree is rough and coarse looking in the landscape. Needles look sharp but give the tree a softer look and feel.
Notable Specimens
Christchruch Botanic Gardens, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Although able to be propagated by cuttings and grafting using new growth, seed is the most common form of propagation. Cones produced by the tree are harvested and planted in moist, rich soil to ensure germination.
Ethnobotanical Uses (Disclaimer)
The bark is decay resistant and was highly sought after for use in construction materials. Tannins extracted from the bark are used as dyes while the roots are used where buoyancy is necessary. Used strategically for erosion control in some areas.
Averyanov, L.V., Phan, K.L., Nguyen, T.H., Nguyen, S.K., Nguyen, T.V. and Pham, T.D. 2009. Preliminary observation of native Glyptostrobus pensilis (Taxodiaceae) stands in Vietnam. Taiwania 54: 191-212.