Purple Plumes – January 2014 Foliage Follow-up

A few weeks ago, I was taking a walk in SE Portland and passed this tree at SE 22nd and Ash.


Japanese plume-cedar, Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans,’ is green most of the year, and then turns bronzy purple or red-brown in the winter. Different. Now is the time of year they stand out with their unusual foliage color.

These trees can reach 30 feet tall, but the one I’m most familiar with is this younger one with a typically bushy juvenile form, about 8 feet tall, on the corner of NE 21st and Wygant.  If I hadn’t seen this tree turn the same orange-brown color last year, I’d be wondering about it’s health condition.



This pair suddenly popped out at me on NE 15th and Hancock.


One more at NE 27th and Hancock — the only image that turned out OK was the close up.


Here are the details on Cryptomeria japonica ‘Elegans’ from Oregon State University Horticulture;

  • Evergreen conifer, 8 to 30 feet tall, can be multi-stemmed
  • Green feathery foliage, more loose than the species, turning brownish red in winter
  • Peeling bark, attractive red orange
  • Cones smaller than the species, or coneless
  • Hardy in USDA Zones 6-9, best foliage color in full sun

Foliage Follow-up comes the day after Bloom Day, and is hosted by Pam Penick on her blog, Digging. In this month of bare branches with landscapes lacking in green, click over to see what’s there.

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2 Responses to Purple Plumes – January 2014 Foliage Follow-up

  1. Thank you for this post! I’ve been captivated by all of the colorful cyptomeria this winter, nice to have a name.

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    That’s an interesting tree I’ve never seen before! Cool color, although I can see that it would worry you if you didn’t know it was supposed to do that.

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