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Plant Detail

Thuja occidentalis

* Common Name:

white cedar, eastern white cedar, eastern arborvite, northern white cedar, swamp cedar, tree of life

* Genus:

Thuja

* Species:

occidentalis

Subspecies:

* Family (scientific):

Cupressaceae

* Family (common):

Redwood

Synonyms :

* Distribution in Canada:

Manitoba
Ontario
Quebec
New Brunswick
Nova Scotia
P.E.I.
Newfoundland

 

Photographer: Bill Moses.

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Habitat

Ecozone(s):

Boreal Shield
Atlantic Maritime
Mixedwood Plains
Boreal Plains
Hudson Plains

Natural Habitat(s):

Forest (over 65% cover)
Woodland (35-60% cover)
Riparian (edge)
Swamp/Marsh (nutrient rich)

Alpine
Rocky Bluff
Lakeshores

Habitat Garden(s):

Woodland

Erosion Control? Yes

Characteristics
 
Growing Conditions

* Plant Type:

Tree

Moisture Requirements: Dry, Normal, Moist

Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade

Soil Requirements: Clay, Sand, Loam

Calciphile

Temperature Zone: 2

Evergreen?

Yes

Average Height:

9 to 16 m

Tolerances:

Drought Tolerant
Salt Tolerant

Flower Info
 
Fruit/Seed Info

Showy flowers?

No

Showy fruit/seeds?

Yes

Bloom time:

Apr to Apr

Edible for humans?

No

Flower Colour(s):

Yellow, Green/Brown

Fruit/Seed Colour(s):

Red, Brown

Miscellaneous
 
Uses

Fragrant Flowers?

Yes

Urban Oasis, Stewards in the City, and Eco Superior are specific Evergreen programs that some plants are used in.

Fragrant Foliage?

Yes

Program & Other Uses:

Stewards in the City
Medicinal
Aboriginal

Fall colours?

No

Distinctive bark?

No

Poisonous to humans?

Thorns or prickles?

No

Attracts wildlife?

Squirrels
Birds
Other Showy Insects

Larval host for:

Provincial tree/flower?

Plant Watch species?

No

Interesting Tidbits
 
References

Habitat Information: Grows by lakes, riparian edges, uplands and dry sites, with special adaptation to grow on cliffs and talus slopes. Well drained soil, swampy sites in various soil types. White tailed deer eat it and use it for shelter. Has been known to age to 400 years. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) Eastern
White Cedar has wood that is decay resistant; this tree is commercially forested for a variety of lumber uses. Its habitat is cool, moist and high nutrient soils mainly on neutral to alkaline soils.

Insect Relationships: Insects and also pests (fungus or blight) of Eastern White Cedar include spider mites, cedar leaf miners, northern cedar bark beetles, shoot blight. (University of Guelph)

Garden Uses and Energy Conservaton: A large white cedar tree can be planted 1 metre from a house to provide energy savings. Colorado University did a study that concluded that landscaping changes can result in lowered heating bills by up to 25%. Tall evergreen trees have been proven to act as efficient natural windbreaks. Up to 60% of Ajax, Ontario’s annual residential energy savings bill has been calculated to be through the use of trees as winter windbreaks. (TRCA Landscaping for Energy to Conserve Energy)

Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses:
WARNING: White cedar essential oil contained in the leaves is aromatic and POISONOUS if taken in large quantities. Should NOT be used by pregnant women as it is also used to induce menstruation.

Native Peoples have used the pith of twigs to make soup. Inner bark has been cooked, dried, ground into powder, and used with wheat or cereal for bread. Leaves have been used to make highly aromatic tea, full of Vitamin C. The tea have been used for bronchitis, respiratory problems and as cough syrup. It was used in treating cystitis in children, and for bedwetting. Leaves were used in steambaths for rheumatism, arthritis, colds, as wash for swollen feet, for painful joints and for increasing blood circulation.

WARNING: Oil was used as expectorant and rubefacient(skin curative by irritation); used to promote menstruation; to relieve rheumatism. This volatile oil is TOXIC and overdoses have occurred. Should be used only under supervision of qualified practitioner. (Plants for a Future)

Aboriginals used Eastern White Cedar to prevent scurvy and taught this practice to French settlers, giving rise to the name arborvitae, or "tree of life." The Arbor-vitae sap contains vitamin C. (Kershaw)

Tribes of the north used it for frames for their canoes. (Peattie)

It was frequently used to make brooms.

Valuable for posts, poles, shingles, boat building, canoes and other uses where timber is exposed to decay, but where there is a little likelihood of mechanical wear.(Hosie, R.C. - Nat. Trees of CA)


NatureServe

Plants for a Future

Native Trees of Canada
R.C. Hosie
Fitzhenry and Whiteside Ltd.
1979

Wetland Plants of Ontario
Steven Newmaster, Allan Harris and Linda Kershaw
Lone Pine Publishing
1997
ISBN: 1-55105-059-5

A Natural History of Trees of Eastern and Central North America
Donald Culross Peattie
Bonanza Books
Year unknown
ISBN unknown

Trees of Ontario
Linda Kershaw
Lone Pine Publishing
2001
ISBN 1-55105-274-1



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