Eastern Arborvitae

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Thuja occidentalis
Conservation status: Secure
Missing image
Thuja_occidentalis.jpg



Thuja occidentalis foliage and cones
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Pinophyta
Class:Pinopsida
Order:Pinales
Family:Cupressaceae
Genus:Thuja
Species:T. occidentalis

Template:Taxobox section binomial botany

Eastern Arborvitae Thuja occidentalis, a species of thuja, is an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, native to the northeastern US and southeastern Canada, from central Saskatchewan east to New Brunswick, and south to eastern Tennessee in the Appalachian Mountains.

Unlike the closely related Western Redcedar Thuja plicata, it is only a small tree, to 10-20 m tall and 0.4 m trunk diameter (exceptionally to 30 m tall and 1.6 m diameter). The foliage forms in flat sprays with scale-like leaves 3-5 mm long. The cones are slender, yellow-green ripening brown, 10-15 mm long and 4-5 mm broad, with 6-8 overlapping scales.

Other names by which it is known include "Northern Whitecedar", "Eastern Whitecedar" (sometimes split into two words as "White Cedar", though this causes confusion, as it is not a cedar), and the colloquial "swamp-cedar".

Ecology

Eastern Arborvitae grows naturally in wet forests, being particularly abundant in swamps where other larger and faster-growing trees cannot compete successfully. It also occurs on other sites with reduced tree competition such as cliffs. Although not listed as endangered, wild Eastern Arborvitae populations are threatened in many areas by high the deer numbers encouraged by hunting associations; deer find the soft evergreen foliage a very attractive winter food, and strip it rapidly. The largest Eastern Arborvitae known is 34 m tall and 175 cm diameter, in Leelanau County, Michigan. It can be a very long-lived tree in certain conditions, with notably old specimens growing on cliffs where they are inaccessible to deer and wildfire; the oldest known living specimen is just over 1,000 years old, but a dead specimen with over 1,500 growth rings has been found. These very old trees are, despite their age, small and stunted due to the difficult growing conditions.

Uses

Eastern Arborvitae is very widely used as an ornamental tree, particularly for screens and hedges.

External links

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