Chinese Swamp Cypress £1,000
|Origin – South China||Introduced to Britain - Unknown|
|Local Champion – Val de la Mare Arboretum||Height 13 m Diameter 34 cm|
|National Champion – Val de la Mare Arboretum||Dimensions as above|
The species is very rare being nearly extinct in the wild due to overcutting for its valuable decay-resistant, scented wood. There appear to be no remaining wild plants in China and only a few of the 250 left in Vietnam are seed-bearing. As a result it is on the Red List of Endangered Species.
This is one of 4 good specimens growing in the arboretum which makes this group one of the most important collections in the British Isles.
The timber is highly valued, aromatic with fine texture, resistant to termites and insects and easy to carve. Uses include cabinet making, fine art articles, musical instruments, office furniture and turnery. The root is soft and spongy and can be used for making corks and life buoys.
It is a medium-sized to large tree, reaching 30 metres tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 1m, possibly more. The trees thrive in swamps, along stream and rivers courses so it is fairly widely planted along the banks of rice paddies where its roots help to stabilise the banks by reducing soil erosion. It can grow in water up to 60 cm deep and produces aerial roots resembling human knees, thought to help transport oxygen to the roots.
It is unusual in that it is a deciduous conifer – the crown is bare in the winter with an attractive elegant tracery of small branches and twigs. In spring, bright green feathery small leaflets appear, turning a rich brown in autumn.