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Conifers: Thuja occidentalis

Botanical name: Thuja occidentalis

Common name: American arborvitae

also known as (Eastern arborvitae, white-cedar)

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created by:
chief cultivator

Mercer island, Wa

at a glance

Soil: damp, alkaline, sand
Zones: 3a thru 7b

winter interest

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description for "Conifers: Thuja occidentalis"

Arborvitae is a pyramidal, medium-sized tree with scale- like leaves. Fragrant, fan-like grower. Great for foundation plantings, hedges, and windbreaks. Has a dense and compact shape. Drainage is very important - evergreens will not succeed in wet soil or in a sweet soil. Can reach 30' to 50' tall and 10' to 15' wide, but when grown in the landscape, plants are mostly seen in the 20' to 30' size range. Can be single-or multi-trunked. --edited by dtd siegelgirl


Native to Canada and Eastern United States. Thuja occidentalis 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 currently listed as endangered, wild Thuja occidentalis populations are threatened in many areas by high deer numbers; deer find the soft evergreen foliage a very attractive winter food, and strip it rapidly. The largest known is 34 m tall and 175 cm diameter, in South Manitou Island within Leelanau County, Michigan.

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