Difficult to distinguish: thuja and cypress

Difficult to distinguish: thuja and cypress

Cypress or thuja - what are the differences?

  • odor
  • Needle shape
  • Appearance
  • Color change in winter
  • Cones

Both conifers give off an aromatic scent when the leaves are rubbed between the fingers. The scent of the thuja is more pronounced. The aroma of the cypress is more reminiscent of lemon, while the smell of thuja is a little reminiscent of gummy bears. This difference can often only be determined if both species grow side by side.

also read

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  • Find the right location for the cypress
  • Growing cypresses yourself - propagation of a cypress

The needles of the thuja appear coarser than those of the cypress. They are often darker as well, with cypresses of very different colors.

In winter the color of the needles of the tree of life changes. No change in color can be found in the cypress.

Difference in the tenons

Cypresses have small cones that are round and yellowish, greenish or bluish, depending on the species. They stay on the tree for a very long time and often only open after several years when they are lignified. They also open when exposed to strong heat, for example a fire.

The cones of thuja, on the other hand, have an elongated shape and are yellowish. They lignify faster and then burst.

Thuja is less demanding in terms of location

In contrast to the cypress, thuja gets along quite well in shady locations. Even compacted soil does not affect the tree of life as much as the cypress. The waterlogging that occurs on compacted soils favors the development of diseases in cypress trees.

However, thuja needs more nutrients than a cypress. You need to fertilize the trees more often.

Similarities between cypress and thuja

Both plants are poisonous. They should therefore not be planted in gardens with children or pets.

Cypress and thuja are equally well tolerated by pruning and are therefore suitable as hedge plants.


If you want to plant a hedge in a shady location, neither cypress nor thuja are the right choice. Yew trees and yew trees are much better suited for shady spots.