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Thuja plicata

Phonetic Spelling
THU-ya ply-KAY-tuh
Description

Large evergreen in the Cupressaceae family native to the pacific northwest of the United States. It is the largest tree in the cypress family and can grow 100-200 feet in the wild with girths of 23 feet. They typically reach a height of 50-70 feet with a spread of 15-25 feet and live for hundreds of years with oldest-known specimens over 1000 years old. Mature trees exhibit a narrow to broad pyramidal shape that may develop a buttressed base. Trees growing in compact forest areas tend to develop a narrower shape whereas those with unrestricted room for growth develop a broader form. Branches may droop somewhat, with upturned ends that create a graceful appearance.

Cedar wood is used as commercial timber. Its tight straight grain, fragrance, and resistance to decay make are useful for products such as fences, boats, decks, outdoor furniture, telephone poles, caskets, closets, chests, and interior finishes. Growth rate is fast, typically 2-3 feet per year.

This tree will suffer in hot humid climates but may be able to grow in the NC mountains. This species grows in full sun to full shade and prefers consistently moist, well-drained soil with pH 5.0 to 8.0. It does not tolerate drought. Use as a specimen for large yards, at the edges of ponds, streams or bogs and for screening.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. Bagworm and some root rots may occur. These plants may struggle in the heat of North Carolina summers.  Plant in an area protected from dry winds.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

More information on Thuja.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bernheim selection'
  • 'Clemson'
  • 'Euchlora'
  • 'Manor View'
  • Sunshine
  • 'Whipcord'
'Bernheim selection', 'Clemson', 'Euchlora', 'Manor View', Sunshine, 'Whipcord'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#rain garden#foliage#wildlife plant#conifer#tree#winter interest#black walnut#hedges#wet sites#pond margins#cpp#deer browsing plant#cool weather plant#screening#bird friendly#mammals#cover plant winter#streams
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Bernheim selection'
  • 'Clemson'
  • 'Euchlora'
  • 'Manor View'
  • Sunshine
  • 'Whipcord'
'Bernheim selection', 'Clemson', 'Euchlora', 'Manor View', Sunshine, 'Whipcord'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#rain garden#foliage#wildlife plant#conifer#tree#winter interest#black walnut#hedges#wet sites#pond margins#cpp#deer browsing plant#cool weather plant#screening#bird friendly#mammals#cover plant winter#streams
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Thuja
    Species:
    plicata
    Family:
    Cupressaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Native Americans used it for the construction of shelter, canoes, boats, kayaks, and totem poles. It was also used for utensils, arrows, spears, and ceremonial objects. It makes an ideal low-smoke fuel for drying fish over and open fire. The roots and strips of bark were also harvested for making rope, baskets, mats, and clothing.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Native to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest (northwest United Sta
    Distribution:
    Alaska, western Oregon, western Washington, northwest California, northern Idaho and western Montana. In Canada, distribution is in western British Columbia. It has been introduced to the eastern U.S. and higher elevations of Hawaii. It has also become naturalized in Britain.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This tree provides habitat for various birds (woodpeckers, swallows, chickadees and swifts). It provides cover and dens for small mammals such as raccoons and skunks. In densely forested areas it supports big game such as deer, elk, and black bears that feed on seedlings, saplings, bark, and exposed sapwood.
    Play Value:
    Screening
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Food Source
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 15 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Seed cones and pollen cones appear on the same plant (monoecious). Slender, clustered, elliptical seed cones are 0.4-0.7 inches long, and 0.2 inches wide, usually containing 8-12 overlapping sharp-pointed scales. Initially, seed cones are green in the spring then ripen to brown in the fall. At maturity, the cones open to release 3-6 seeds each (1x5 mm in size) with lateral papery wings. Pollen cones appear at tips of leaf shoots, are 3-4 mm long, initially emerging as reddish-brown and shed yellow pollen in the spring.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Description:
    No flowers
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    White
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Evergreen foliage is arranged in flat sprays of scale-like opposite leaves in rows of four. Leaves are shiny dark green with white markings on the underside that are shaped like a butterfly. 0.06 inches to 0.12 inches long (1.5 - 3 mm)
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Riparian
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Black Walnut
    Wet Soil