Thuja plicata Cupressaceae
Western Red Cedar, Giant Western Arborvitae THEW-ya pli-KHA-ta
- Conifer, evergreen tree, 50-70(200) ft, [15-21(61) m], narrow, pyramidal, buttressed base. Usually maintains lower branches. Branches horizontal or drooping but turning upward at the end, especially the lower branches. Leaves, scale-like, opposite,
in 4 rows, 1.5-3 mm long, shiny dark green, usually with white markings ("butterfly" pattern) on the underside. Cones elliptical, only 12 mm long, clustered and upright, sharp-pointed
- Sun to partial shade. Prefers moist, well-drained, fertile soils, pH adaptable. In the wild found in moist flats, slopes, and banks of rivers. Can be maintained in a hedge.
- Hardy to USDA Zone 5 Native range from Alaska to northern California,
east to Montana.
- Western Red Cedar has been called the "corner stone of northwest coast Indian culture". Its wood is easily split and rot resistant and was used to make important cultural items including, dugout canoes, paddles, house planks, baskets, spears, arrow shafts, and many other implements. The bark was stripped from trees in the spring, hung up to dry, and then beaten until it separated into layers ready for making baskets, ropes, and mates. Red Cedar was considered an excellent fuel, especially for drying fish, because it burns with little smoke (Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).
- Some of the available cultivars of Thuja plicata include:
- Atrovirens - typical habit, foliage bright green throughout the year; originated in Worcester, England about 1874.
- Excelsa - narrow habit, branches strongly ascending, dense, foliage dark green even in winter; found in a Berlin cemetery in 1904.
- Fastigiata - narrow columnar habit, originated in France 1867, apparently rare in North America but the name is sometimes misapplied to Hogan (Jacobson, 1996).
- Hogan - compact, dense narrow habit, common in Washington and Oregon; sometimes, incorrectly, called Fastigiata. Named after Hogan Road of Gresham, Oregon.
- Sunshine - foliage bright gold on the side facing the sun, may have an unattractive bronze color in winter. Apparently similar or the same as Canadian Gold.
- Virescens - slightly narrower habit than species, foliage bright green all year. Introduced by Mitch nursery of Aurora, Oregon in about 1990; the cultivar name is Latinized, although this once common procedure has been invalid since 1959 (Jacobson, 1996).
- Zabrian - foliage has bands of green and golden-yellow, broadly pyramidal habit.
- Oregon State Univ. campus: southeast of Fairbanks Hall.