Northern White-Cedar

Thuja occidentalis
(Eastern White-Cedar, Eastern Arborvitae)


A short-trunked evergreen, the Northern white-cedar was not always considered just an ornamental. It was named arborvitae "Tree of Life" in 1558 when a tea made from the foliage and bark saved the crew of Jacques Cartier from scurvy. We now know that the tree is rich in vitamin C. Indians loved the lightweight wood for making canoes. Its resistance to decay makes it good for telephone poles, fence posts and crossties. This tree is easily recognized by looking at its fan-shaped sprays of leaves. The yellow-green leaves are scale-like and fit tightly over each other like a snake skin. Small light brown cones grow upright at the ends of the sprays.