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Cunninghamia lanceolata - (Lamb.)Hook.

Common Name Chinese Fir
Family Taxodiaceae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling
Habitats Mixed broad-leaved forests, rocky hillsides and roadsides, 200 - 2800 metres in most temperate areas of China[266]. Often forming small, pure stands on red sandstone soils[109].
Range E. Asia - China.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Cunninghamia lanceolata Chinese Fir

Cunninghamia lanceolata Chinese Fir


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Cunninghamia lanceolata or Chinese Fir is an evergreen tree distinguished by its cone-shaped crown. It usually grows about 50 m in height with a bole diameter of up to 3 m. It is fast growing and highly resistant to pests and diseases. It is widely used for landscaping and has medicinal uses. Its leaves are needle-like, leathery, softly spined, stiff, and green to blue-green in color. Wood decoction is used to treat varnish poisoning, chronic ulcers, hernia, etc. Essential oil from the plant is used to treat pain, bruises, and rheumatism. Bark ash is used for burns, scalds, and wounds. Lastly, cone decoction is used against coughs. The bark is a source of tannins. The essential oil from the branches is used in perfumery. The wood is used in construction, shipbuilding, turnery, fuel, charcoal, etc. Form: Pyramidal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Cunninghamia lanceolata is an evergreen Tree growing to 15 m (49ft) by 6 m (19ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 7. It is in leaf all year, in flower from January to May, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


C. sinensis. Pinus lanceolata.


Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

None known at this time

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidote  Carminative  Miscellany  Skin

Carminative. A decoction of the wood is used internally in the treatment of varnish poisoning (from species of Rhus), chronic ulcers, hernia etc[ 178 , 218 , 303 ]. The decoction of the wood is used as a bath for smelly feet[ 303 ]. An essential oil from the plant is used to treat bruises, pain, rheumatism and wounds[ 218 , 303 ]. The ash of the bark is used to treat burns, scalds and wounds[ 218 , 303 ]. A decoction of the cone is used in the treatment of coughs[ 218 , 303 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Miscellany  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: The tree is suitable for reforestation schemes in subtropical evergreen, coniferous and mixed broad-leaved forests[ 303 , 329 ]. It is a suitable species for agroforestry systems in China as it is usually intercropped with a number of crops such as maize, beans, wheat, Chinese sorghum, buckwheat, potato, 'ground chestnut' (Arachis hypogaea), tobacco and upland rice; or with other tree species such as the tung oil tree (Aleurites fordii), tea and Litsea cubeba. The interplanting is important not only to increase the income of farmers during early stages of plantations but also to avoid the land degradation that results from continuous cropping of this tree[ 303 ]. Other Uses The bark is a source of tannins[ 303 ]. The branches produce an essential oil that is used in the perfume industry. Cedrol, pinene, phellandrene, citrene, terpinol, thujenol, cadinol and borneol are the main constituents of the oil[ 303 ]. The pale yellow to white, fragrant wood is uniform-textured; straight-grained; light in weight; and durable, though it rots easily if it is continually wet. It is easily worked and resists insect and termite damage. It is used in construction, ship building etc wherever great strength is required. Older and larger branches are used in turnery[ 1 , 46 , 61 , 178 , 303 ]. A good quality fuel and a charcoal can be made from the wood[ 178 , 303 ].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Pest tolerant, Specimen. A plant mainly of the warm temperate to subtropical zones, just entering into the tropics. It is found at elevations from near sea level to 2,600 metres[ 325 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 16 - 19°c and is fairly frost resistant - mature plants can tolerate temperatures down to about -15°c[ 418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 900 - 2,350mm[ 325 ]. Requires a rich warm soil and a sheltered sunny position[ 1 , 164 ]. Best growth is obtained on well-drained loamy soils[ 325 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 5 - 7.5[ 325 ]. Dislikes soil with free lime otherwise the pH is unimportant[ 200 ]. Young trees can make quite rapid growth in height, up to 60cm a year once they have attained more than 1 metre in height[ 185 ]. Before reaching the height of 1 metre, however, they are liable to be killed by frost[ 185 ]. Trees commence coning and producing viable seeds when they are around 6 - 8 years old[ 303 , 325 ]. This is the main re-forestation tree in China[ 46 , 61 ]. The most important fast-growing timber tree of the warm regions south of the Chang Jiang valley of China[ 266 ]. Unlike most conifers, this species can be coppiced, and it also resprouts from the roots if cut down[ 1 , 303 ]. The bruised foliage emits a delicious resinous aroma[ 245 ]. This species is notably resistant to honey fungus[ 200 ]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Not North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Seed - they have no dormancy and pre-treatment is not necessary. Germination can be improved by soaking the seeds in warm water for a few hours prior to sowing[ 325 ]. Seeds are sown in seed beds, germination begins after 7 days and is terminated after 20 days[ 325 ]. As soon as they are large enough to handle, the seedlings are pricked out into polytubes. Seedlings are normally ready for transplanting into the field in 4 - 5 months later, when they are 35 - 40cm tall[ 325 ]. Vegetative propagation of this species is relatively easy, and at one time most planting stock was produced from coppices from basal stumps after felling[ 325 ]. Nursery seedlings, however, have faster early growth and better survival than coppice sprouts. Since the 1980s, techniques have been developed to produce planting stock from root cuttings[ 325 ]. The cuttings are collected from the root collar when they reach a height of about 10 cm and placed in rooting beds. These cuttings have a survival rate of 90 - 95% and the quality is similar to that of seedling stocks[ 325 ]. Cuttings from lateral shoots are not suitable[ 325 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

This species is found in China: from Sichuan to the coast, mainly in SE China. Records from Laos and northern parts of Viet Nam are likely to represent cultivated or naturalized trees, or are misidentifications of Cunninghamia konishii. Native: China (Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang) Present - origin uncertain: Lao People's Democratic Republic; Viet Nam

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Cunninghamia lanceolata (Chinese Fir)- Status: Least Concern. No specific threats have been identified for this species. The capacity to coppice and relative intolerance to shade will ensure its survival in cutover forest areas. It is also widely planted

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Casuarina cunninghamianaRiver She-OakTree18.0 8-11  LMHNDM005
Mentha cunninghamia Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM022

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Bo Whalen   Fri Feb 7 00:27:29 2003

looking for what has been called blue chinese fir. my sister has one in a container but has no other info.

R,J.Hulm   Wed May 19 09:50:02 2004

It is a good plant for foliage contrast in the garden

Jeff Bump   Mon May 15 2006

I am a lumber trader in the U.S. and have been offered this product as a substitute for Cedar fencing products. Is this specie highly rot and weather resistant?Am I being sold an inferior product?

Bert Newton   Tue Jun 13 2006

Jeff, Did you get any answers on this question. I am also a trader and am involved in bringing multiple loads per month into the US. Where do you need some. I have 4" dogeared shipping this month that needs a home. I also have some 4' and 5' available from Brazil on a regular basis in both 4 and 6". Let me know.

Neonrider   Wed Jan 10 2007

I have a huge one in my yard: http://www.themysteriousworld.com/cunningh.htm

The Mysterious World Cunninghamia Lanceolata page with 27 big pictures

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