Northern White Cedar : Description

northern white cedar

Leaves of Thuja occidentalis. C.J. Earle. (2003).. Retrived April 11, 2013. Accessed from

Northern White Cedar normally reaches 50 ft to 70 ft high, with trunk diameter of 2 ft. It is easy to recognize. It has symmetrical canopy with a narrow pyramidal outlines. The foliage is dense with fan-shaped sprays.

For leaves, they are flat scale-like needles, which are normally 1/8 to 1/4 inch long. They are dark-green, but will turn bronze in winter. They are soft to touch. If you look carefully, every needle is overlapping arrangement of some little tablets. It does not have any odor, only after crushing leaves; they have pleasant, aromatic, spicy and cedar-like smell. This tree has amounts of branches, some large branches connect to trunks, and other small branches are arranged by leaves to make flattened shape. They are branching regularly and symmetrically with the color among fray, reddish and brown. Northern White Cedar does not have heavy and huge trunk, because they do not need to store water and nutrients. No matter trunks or branches, they mostly grow upright, and will not drop down.


northern white cedar

log and bark of northern white cedar, Giambrone and Stadlin (2013).


Moving on to the wood, it is light, soft, durable and rot- and termite-resistant, especially the heartwood. The sapwood is thin and white, and the heartwood id a light brown with a pencil-like odor. Wood is covered by thin and reddish brown bark, but it will turn grey follow age. It separates into long, vertical narrow strips. The root system is shallow and spreading and undergoes less than 1/2 inch deep due to high moisture conditions. Their woody branches can also develop roots above the ground.