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Northern White Cedar
(Thuja occidentalis)

Key ID Features: Scaly needles, Cones, Bark, Habitat

Northern White Cedar

Other Names: Arborvitae, Swamp Cedar, or White-cedar

Most folks will recognize cedar from its unique leaves and bark. Foliage is a
series of overlapping SCALES. The SCENT is peculiar to cedar. BARK
is brown and stringy, even on large trees.


CONES are under a half-inch long and look more like capsules than cones. During good seed years, heavy cones crops can be mistaken for browning foliage. Cedar is one of the few trees that can reproduce by "layering".


Mature cedar usually grows to 40 or 50 in HEIGHT with DIAMETERS up to 2 or 3
feet. On wet, POOR SITES, cedar will not get much taller than 25
feet and diameters will rarely exceed 5 or 6 inches. The development
is often best on UPLAND SITES, especially on the limestone soils along
Lake Michigan.


Cedar can live to be several hundred years old, one of our longest-lived U.P. tree species. The wood is rot-resistant and, as a result, has commonly been used for fence posts, corduroy roads, and saunas. Cedar log homes are becoming increasingly popular.

Another common name for cedar is "arborvitae", the latinized form of
the French phrase "l'arbre de vie". Translated, it means the "tree of
life". A awful-tasting tea of cedar reportedly cured early European
explorers of scurvy, perhaps, because of a high vitamin C


Common pests: Phomoposis, deer.

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