species of plant

Sciadopitys, the Japanese umbrella-pine, is a unique conifer. It is endemic to Japan, and the sole surviving member of the family Sciadopityaceae. It is a living fossil with no close relatives: its fossils date from 230 million years ago.

Temporal range: Middle Triassic to Recent
Sciadopitys verticillata
Scientific classification
Binomial name
Sciadopitys verticillata
  • Pinus verticillata (Thunb.) Siebold
  • Podocarpus verticillatus (Thunb.) Jacques
  • Taxus verticillata Thunb. 1784
Sciadopitys verticillata close-up

It is an evergreen tree that can grow 15-27m tall. It's brown main shoots have whorls of 7–12cm long flexible green "cladodes". These look like, and perform the function of, leaves but are actually composed of stem tissue. Occasionally, a cladode will fork and produce a bud in the 'v' of the fork, just like a normal stem.

The cones are 6–11 cm long, mature in about 18 months, and have flattish scales that open to release the seeds.

It is a very attractive tree and is popular in gardens, despite its slow growth rate and high cost. Koyamaki was chosen as the Japanese Imperial crest for Prince Hisahito of Akishino, currently third in line to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The plant was first introduced to Europe by John Gould Veitch in September 1860.[2]

Infrared microspectroscopy has identified conifers of the family Sciadopityaceae as the principal source of Baltic amber.[3]


  1. * Katsuki, T., Luscombe, D & Farjon, A. (2013). "Sciadopitys verticillata". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 15 January 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T34111A2846623.en
  2. James Herbert Veitch (2006). Hortus Veitchii (reprint ed.). Caradoc Doy. pp. 51–52. ISBN 0-9553515-0-2.
  3. Wolfe A.P. et al. 2009. A new proposal concerning the botanical origin of Baltic amber. Proc Biol Sci. 276(1672):3403-12. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0806 PMID 19570786