Golden Mop False Cypress (M. pisifera) is a member of the cypress family (Thuja). It grows from Mexico southward through Central America, into South America and eastward across North America. It occurs in moist forests or deciduous woodlands where it forms dense stands up to 30 feet high and 10 feet wide. Its leaves are alternate, oblong to elliptic in shape, 1/4 inch long and ¼ inch thick. They have five lobes at the tip. The flowers are white, trumpet shaped and grow from June until August.
The name “false” refers to its appearance when cut or twisted like a pretzel; it looks like a true cypress but is not one. The plant’s scientific name is Thuja pisifera var. pisifera.
Golden Mop False Cypress (M. pisifera) is a shrub that grows to 15 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It has straight, upright stems growing 3 to 4 inches per year, with branches spreading out from each stem. Leaves are opposite, oblong to elliptic in shape, ½ inch long and ¾ inch thick. Each leaf has five distinct lobes at the tip.
They are dark green above and lighter green below.
Flowers are inconspicuous, in short, cone-like clusters that grow from the axils of the leaves. They are white in color and bloom from May until August.
Fruit are egg-shaped capsules that get caught in the foliage and remain there long after the flowers have finished blooming. They typically ripen in September and October.
Golden Mop false cypress grows at the edge of swamps, on wet or moist hillsides and on river banks throughout the south-central and southeastern United States. It prefers well-drained soil that is rich with organic material such as that found in bottomlands or upland locations that have a mixture of sand, clay or loam. It will not tolerate poor soil, drought or flood.
Golden Mop false cypress is hardy in zones 6b through 11. It can be planted as a containerized or balled and burlaped shrub, but it grows too large for most residential areas so it is usually planted in a place of prominence such as along the street or near the front door.
Golden Mop false cypress grows from 10 to 20 feet in height. It spreads from 10 to 15 feet from its original planting site. It needs a space of at least 20 feet in diameter in which to grow because it has a wide-spreading habit.
Flowers bloom on female plants from May until August. They do not produce berries if they do not get sufficient light.
Leaf and Flower Colors:
Evergreen leaves are dark green above and lighter green below. They are opposite and elliptical in shape with five lobes at the tip. They are 1 to 2 inches long and up to 5/8 inch wide.
Light green flowers grow from the axils of the leaves in short, cone-like clusters. The clusters are about three-quarters of an inch long and less than half as wide. They bloom from May until August, and do not produce berries if they do not get sufficient light.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sawara Falsecypress (Japanese Falsecypress), Chamaecyparis pisifera by AX Niemiera – 2012 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu
Conifers for Utah by MR Kuhns – 2012 – digitalcommons.usu.edu
Chamaecyparis plant named ‘FARROWCGMS’ by MW Farrow – US Patent App. 15/732,453, 2019 – Google Patents
Native and cultivated conifers of northeastern North America: a guide by EA Cope – 1986 – books.google.com
Selecting plants for screens and hedges by P Dinius, CA Brun – 2015 – research.wsulibs.wsu.edu
Choosing the right landscape plants by LG Jull – 2008 – kenosha.extension.wisc.edu
Designing with conifers: the best choices for year-round interest in your garden by RL Bitner – 2011 – books.google.com