Cunninghamia lanceolata 'Glauca' - Blue Chinafir
Family - Taxodiaceae
Size - 45 to 60 feet in height with approximately 1/2 half that in width. Slow to medium rate of growth. Pyramidal in shape and more full than the species.
Foliage - Needles are spirally arranged, 1/16 to 1/8" wide, 2 1/2 to 3 inches in length tapering to a point. New seasons growth is very soft becoming rigid and lance like as it matures. Foliage is very glaucous (blue in color) especially on new growth. Older foliage is a dark blue-green. The color is very attractive, new growth being similiar in intensity to 'Hoops" Blue Spruce. This last photo was taken in July 1997. The latest picture was taken in July 2000, just 3 years later 2000 - Same China Fir.
Bark - Brown, exfoliating off in long strips. Reddish-brown inner bark.
Pests and Diseases - None noticed
Landscape Use - Specimen, massing. Dead needles tend to "hang on" with the species, rather than dropping, giving it a rather ratty appearance as it gets older. Unusually, in my experience with 'Glauca', the dead branches tend to excise themselves and fall to the ground instead of hanging on the tree. Prefers a well drained soil and protection from windswept sites. For it's first few years, when growing it from a young plant it assumes a shrub shape. After about the 3rd year, it will throw out a vertical leader. Once established it grows at a medium rate. It is topophytic, meaning if cuttings are taken from lateral growth, they grow laterally, if taken from vertical growth, they grow vertically. One of the few, if not the only conifer which can sprout from the roots if cut down.
Performance - 8 Only for warmer climates. The species could possibly be grown in the southern reaches of Zone 6, but expect some dieback in severe winters. Zone 7 winters at times is pushing it. Will do best in Zones 7 through 9. The cultivar 'Glauca' is hardier than the species and could probably be used in to zone 6 with greater success. "Glauca" is by far the more attractive of the two.
SIDENOTE** Well this is what I used to think according to texts. However, according to Mike Hayman in Louisville, there is or was one at Yew-Dell, in Crestwood, Ky. that was planted by the late Theodore Klein. From my knowledge, and according to Mike Hayman, the tree is still there which means it has survived well below zero (greater than -20F) temperatures.