Thuja plicata (Western Red Cedar)


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Plant Description: A large columnar evergreen tree with an irregular to conical crown. The trunk is sometimes flared out near the bottom (buttressed) with reddish brown to gray bark that is fibrous and vertically ridged. Branches droop slightly and arch upwards towards the tip, branchlets are widely flattened and pendulant. The foliage of this plant is great for use in bouquets. The yellow green leaves are lustrous, dense, and scale-like with a spicy fragrance when crushed. Some leaves have a red-brown-green color in winterSmall seed cones are brown, woody, and in small loose clusters. Individual cones have 8-14 scales.

Regarded as a very powerful and useful tree in many Native American societies, western red cedar was traditionally used medicinally, ceremonially, and in the construction of many things from canoes to clothing. Cedar is a antimicrobial (along with having other beneficial properties) and its foliage and bark can be used for medicinal purposes. *CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL FOR MEDICAL USE*

  • Height: 40-150ft
  • Width: 3-35ft
  • Watering needs: regular
  • Sun needs: full sun to part shade
  • Soil needs: moist to wet, well-draining
  • Bloom Time: small seed cones between March and April
  • Portland Plant List (Backyard Habitat Certification): Yes

Landscape Use and Ecological Function: This native plant is found in either of the two main montane regions, one occurring between the Coast Range and Cascades from British Columbia to Northern California, the other in the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to Idaho. Western red cedar is commonly found in moist sites, wet ravines, streambanks, and swamps, and in shady mixed coniferous forests. It prefers places with rich soil at elevations from sea level to 7513 ft.

We recommend growing this tree in woodland and rain gardens as well as in conventional or ornamental gardens. It provides excellent habitat and will attract birds and wildlife.

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