Northern White Cedar : Life Cycle

northern white cedar

Flowers of Thuja occidentalis. Runesson, U. (n.d.).

Northern White Cedar has particular products and productions which is unusual as normal life cycle of other trees. The White Cedar is monoecious, with seperate male and female reproductive organs on same plant. However, they are easy to distinguish. Male flowers are yellowish and normally arise from branches near the base of the shoot, and female flowers are pinkish, and appear at the tips of short terminal branches. Both of them are tiny and cone-like.

Oval cones, which are .3 to .5 inch, are fruits of White Cedar. Same as flowers, cones also have different genders. Male pollen cones and female seed cones develop. They are born singly or in large clusters at the ends of the branches of a same tree. Male cones are about 2 mm. long, rounded and yellowish in color. Male ones have dry or hard woody coverings. Female cones are 9 to 13 mm. long, and initially pink to purple, but will turn brown when they mature enough. Each female one has several pairs of tightly overlapping scales, which are ovate in shape with rounded tips. As I mentioned before, only female cones are responsible for reproduction. Each mature female cone has about 8 seeds. There are 4 fertile scales with 2 seeds in each one of it. Every seed is about 1/4 inch long, and brown with membranous double wings. During late summer to the fall, scales spread apart to release seeds into soils for reproduction. The pollens in male cones are cross-pollinated by wind.