4. China-Fir

(Cunninghamia lanceolata)

Family: Cupressaceae

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The northwest corner of Blodel Hall is home to several China-firs. A gorgeously colored redwood cousin, this tree features spongy cinnamon bark and broad, flat, 1- to 2.5-inch (2.5- to 6.4-centimeters) needles in sumptuous, curving arrays along stout twigs. This distinctive species is a large-growing, common, important Chinese conifer. China-Fir has been cultivated in the West since 1804. Unlike many evergreens, it can reproduce by suckers from its base. The walnut-sized, prickly cones are firmly attached and fall with the dry, brown, old twigs. Though China-Fir foliage is normally shiny dark green, here you see the matte bluish form. 

Cold winter conditions can tint the foliage with bronze, but these damaged branches will quickly be replaced in the spring. China Fir prefers moist, well-drained acidic soils, and is well adapted to urban soils and useful as an ornamental conversation piece because of its unique branch structure. Its wood used to make coffins and for many less ghastly roles such as furniture, ship, and temple building. This species is often planted on college campuses and golf courses.

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