The Japanese umbrella pine (*Sciadopitys verticillata*) is a conical-shaped evergreen tree with dark green needles. Despite its common name, the umbrella pine is not a true pine but actually a [conifer](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/conifers-guide) that is the lone member of the botanical family *Sciadopityaceae*. \n\nThe umbrella pine’s needles grow three to five inches long in a spiral pattern called whorls and are far wispier than the needles of a true pine tree. As the tree ages, its bark becomes a reddish-brown color and will peel (known as exfoliating). An umbrella pine can take decades to mature, but it can reach a height of twenty-five to thirty feet when fully grown. The tree ultimately takes on a conical or pyramidal shape, with a narrow top and wider bottom branches. \n\nDue to its slow growth rate, the umbrella pine makes a good ornamental evergreen shrub in gardens. Known as kōyamaki in Japan, the conifer, according to local culture, is one of five sacred trees in the country’s Kiso Valley.\nThe Japanese umbrella pine is slow-growing, making its maintenance and plant care relatively simple. Here are several tips to help your umbrella pine tree thrive: \n\n1. __Determine your USDA zone__. The Japanese umbrella pine grows across USDA [Hardiness Zones](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/guide-to-planting-zones) 5 through 8a, so it’s worth checking how your region’s USDA zone before acquiring one of these trees.\n2. __Plant the tree in full sun__. Though umbrella trees can withstand partial shade, it prefers a location where it will have access to sunlight most of the day.\n3. __Prepare the soil__. Umbrella pines do best in well-drained, organically rich, and acidic soil.\n4. __Water the tree regularly__. The umbrella pine prefers a consistent, moist soil—don’t soak the soil, but don’t let it become too dry, either.\n5. __Add mulch in warmer climates__. During periods of warm weather or if you live in a warmer climate, you can help the ground retain moisture by layering mulch around the base of the tree.\n6. __Protect the tree from wind__. The umbrella pine tree can withstand freezing temperatures, but it’s prone to winter burn in the most northern climates. To avoid this, plant the tree in a location where strong winds won’t affect it, or wrap the umbrella pine in burlap in winter.\n7. __Prune only when necessary__. The umbrella pine needs relatively little [pruning](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-prune-your-plants-and-trees). Remove dead or damaged branches when needed. To care for the tree as you would an ornamental [bonsai](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-care-for-a-bonsai-tree), trim it back to the desired shape every season. If you’re letting the umbrella pine grow to its full size, trim back seasonally to help retain a consistent shape.\nGrow your own garden with Ron Finley, the self-described "Gangster Gardener." Get the [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com/) and learn how to cultivate fresh herbs and vegetables, keep your house plants alive, and use compost to make your community - and the world - a better place.\nThe Japanese umbrella pine tree is a slow-growing evergreen conifer native to the forests of Japan.