Characteristics of Chinese Fir Tree (Cunninghamia lanceolata) in the Wild

Cunninghamia lanceolata
Chinese fir or Chinese cypress (Cunninghamia lanceolata) is a species of tree in the family Cupressaceae, native to south-central and southeastern China. This tree is often grown as an ornamental tree in temperate climates.

Its distribution covers central China stretching towards the East Coast of China (including the regions of Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Zhejiang).

The wood of this tree is soft, yet very durable and has an aroma similar to that of Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Chinese fir has been included in Chinese folklore for over 1000 years and is used for wood products. The roots, branches, leaves, and bark of the tree have been used in traditional medicine for pain relief. Recent studies support the use of various parts of the Chinese fir tree to treat pain and rheumatic conditions. Chinese fir wood is also renowned for its resistance to termites, rot, and mildew.

One of the varieties, Cunninghamia lanceolata ‘Glauca’ has bluish foliage and is winter hardy.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Fir Leaf

Cunninghamia lanceolata Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/jainderju

The narrow leaves are lanceolate, stiff, straight, or slightly sickle-shaped, 0.8 to 6.5 cm long and 1.5-5 mm wide. The leaves are helically arranged but usually face the shooting side in two rows.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Fir Fruit

Cunninghamia lanceolata Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/wuulongsheu

Male cones form in groups of 10-30, while female cones form in groups of 2-3. The cones ripen after 7 months and range in size, from 2.5 to 4.5 cm in length.

 

Characteristics of Chinese Fir Tree

Cunninghamia lanceolata Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/linaceae

Chinese fir grows as a large tree up to 45 meters high in temperate climates. In North America, the elevation is usually between 10-15 meters. The crown of the tree forms a pyramid. Bark color ranges from dark gray to dark brown.

Chinese fir is responsible for about 25 percent of all China’s commercial timber production. In the last 70 years, plantation area has tripled due to extensive planting and reforestation. Chinese fir is also used for carbon sequestration, about 30 percent of all plantation forests in China consist of Chinese fir trees, mainly in southern China.

 

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