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Eastern white-cedar

  • Native Plants,
  • Trees and Shrubs
Eastern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Photo: Jardin botanique de Montréal (Paul Émile Gagnon)
Thuja occidentalis.



Origin and description

Large conifer with a broad pyramidal shape. Forked trunk with many branches on unpruned trees. Bark is reddish brown, with narrow fissures. Branches in the crown are short and slightly upturned or horizontal; lower branches rather downturned. New shoots grow horizontally. Foliage is sparse on terminal shoots, which grow vigorously. Lateral shoots are denser. Foliage is light green in spring, turning darker green in summer and bronze in winter. Scale-like leaves. Cones are oblong and upright, ripening from yellowish-green to reddish-brown. The leaves have a characteristic odour, making white cedar easy to recognize.
Height: 18 m
Spread: 3.5 m

Common name

Eastern white-cedar / American Arborvitae / Eastern Arborvitae

Latin name (genus)

Thuja occidentalis

English common name

French common name

Botanical family

  • Cupressaceae

Growing conditions

Fast growing.
Prefers full sun, but tolerates semi-shade.
Adapts to all types of soil, but prefers alkaline soil.
Grows well in moist soil. Requires good relative humidity. This native plant needs winter protection only when grown in difficult sites and in the first few years after planting.

Pruning and maintenance

Tolerates pruning very well, especially when grown as a hedge.


Popular as a tall hedge, screen or windbreak, or in mass plantings. Sometimes planted as a single specimen, but there are other more decorative trees for this purpose. Because white cedars are inexpensive, however, especially bare-root specimens, they are widely used, sometimes too much so.


  • Zone 2b
Pests and diseases
Physiological disorders

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