The genus Cryptomeria consists of only one species C. japonica which is native to Japan and China, but this has given rise to a multitude of varieties, many of which are excellent for the garden, others just oddities. C. j. elegans is one of the better-known varieties of medium growth with soft juvenile foliage. It turns from a summer colour of light browny green to copper bronze in autumn and winter, blending well with the more usual autumn tints of other trees and shrubs. From about 6 ft. in ten years, it will grow to 20 to 25 ft.
C. j. lobbii nana is a slow-growing form making in time a rounded bush with bunches of foliage making separate growths over the plant. Light green in summer, it turns bronze green during the winter. After ten years it will make a bush of about 2 ft. high and as much across and eventually 6 to 8 ft. high and maybe 10 ft. broad.
A dwarf variety ideal for the rock garden is C. j. vilmoriniana which makes a very tightly congested bush. Hardly reaching 1 ft. after ten years, it will not be likely to exceed 3 ft. after fifty years. It turns from a bright green in summer to almost a reddish-purple colour in winter depending upon the plant’s exposure to the weather.