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Northern White Cedar Thuja occidentalis


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Northern White Cedar, leaves & cones
credit: Joseph O'Brien, U.S. Forest Service, Forest Health Protection

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Alternate name: Arborvitae

Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Evergreen with a narrow conical crown. Trunk often divided into two or more secondary trunks of equal size. Branches fan-like extending to ground, may take root of tree falls. and scaly leaves. Bark red-brown, furrowed and peels in long, narrow strips. Foliage in flat sprays with scale-like leaves 3–5 mm. (0.12–0.20 in.) long. Cones slender, yellow-green ripening brown, 10–15 mm. (0.39–0.59 in.) long and 4–5 mm. (0.16–0.20 in.) broad, with 6-8 overlapping scales.

Dimensions Height: 12-21 m. (40-70 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3-0.9 m. (1-3 ft.).

Habitat Swamps (fresh & salt).

Range Great Lakes, Western Canada, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Plains, New England.

Discussion Commercially used for rustic fencing and posts, lumber, poles, shingles and in the construction of log cabins. White Cedar is the preferred wood for the structural elements, such as ribs and planking, of birchbark canoes and the planking of wooden canoes. Essential oil within the plant used for cleansers, disinfectants, hair preparations, insecticides, liniment, room sprays, and soft soaps. Some reports that the Ojibwa made a soup from the inner bark of the soft twigs. Twigs used to make teas to relieve constipation and headache.