Northern White Cedar: Uses, Identification, and Growth Rate


Northern White Cedar is also known as Eastern Arborvitae. Its scientific name is “Thuja occidentalis”. Northern White Cedar is native to eastern Canada, north-central, and northeastern United States.

The parts of this tree are useful in its medical field, So it is also called the “tree of life”. Sap, leaf oil, seeds,  inner bark, and leaves are used in medicine. Some people say it belongs to the cypress family. But some people say that it is from the pine family.

Northern White Cedar has brown or tan colors. Some of the knots are found in wood. Being fine and straight grain, it gives a good-looking texture so that it is useful for shingles and outdoor furniture. Its beautiful grain attracts everyone. It is part of the cedar family.

#Northern White Cedar
Scientific name:Thuja occidentalis
Tree Size:50-65 ft (15-20 m) tall
Tree Trunk Diameter1.3-2 ft trunk diameter
Janka Hardness:320 lbf (1,420 N)
UsesFences, posts, shingles, piles, canoes, and outdoor applications.
Workability:Overall good but poor screw-holding capabilities. 
Cedar Properties

Northern White Cedar Uses

It is used for commercial and residential building construction purposes. It is also very famous in the medical world. Because its leaves, bark, and seeds have medicinal properties.

Commercial Uses:  It is famous for fencing, posts, siding, shingles. So that it can be used in places where there is contact with moisture and soil. It is soft, brittle, and coarse-grained. This can be more durable for a long time with little maintenance.

Residential Uses:  Many people have the misconception that softwood is weak. But this is not 100% correct. It is useful for railroad ties and shingles. Because it can withstand pressure and bad weather. Northern White Cedar has Residential applications such as cabin logs, lumber, poles, and furniture.

Medical Uses: It is used to make many medicines. It is useful for the relief of muscular pain.  The leaf and top portion are used in fever, cough, and gout. So it is also in the most demand in medicine.

Northern White Cedar Identification

It can be identified by its tree texture and leaf structure. It is a small to medium-sized tree. The size of the tree depends on the area and investment.

  • It usually grows to about 50-65 feet high. The average length of its tree is about 30 feet.
  • The diameter of an adult tree can be up to about 2 feet.
  • It is a very slow-growing tree. Medium growth rate average 13-24 ″ per year.
  • Its Burk color is pale brown, stringy, and fibrous in appearance. But when the tree becomes old and older, its bark color becomes reddish-brown to gray.
  • It has evergreen leaves.
  • This monoecious tree, Therefore, has two types of flowers in it (male and female flower). Its flower is 1/2 inch long, egg-shaped, and green. Their flowers are always in pairs of 2 to 6.

Northern White Cedar bark

The color of the bark varies from pale brown to reddish-brown. The color of the newly grown bark is brownish or reddish-brown and its color becomes gray with the age of the tree.

Its bark can be easily removed by hand. the bark begins to peel more aggressively. After peeling the bark, we can see the fibers.

Northern White Cedar Leaf 

Northern White Cedar Leaf
Northern White Cedar Leaf

A leaf can be identified due to the special texture of its leaves. The “leaf” of this tree is actually evergreen. The leaf is scale-like. The needle-like leaves are flattened and 1/8 to 1/4 inch long.  Its leaves are so flat that they cannot be folded with this finger. A flower(male and female) appears between its leaves. The Northern White Cedar tree has one node and two needle-like leaves.

Growth Rate

It is generally growing slower. The growth rate is 12 – 24 ″ per year under normal conditions.


How do you plant Northern white cedar?

The length of its old tree can be up to 40 to 50 feet. The diameter of the tree is 2 to 3 feet. The diameter of some healthy trees can also be up to 6 feet. So they should be spaced accordingly. moist or wet soil is considered better for its growth.

There is no need to care for these trees too much. If any branch comes out in the wrong direction, It should be cut so that the tree can grow in the right direction.

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