Thuja occidentalis L.

White Cedar

A conical tree growing to 20 m or so tall in the wild but usually much smaller in cultivation and generally grown as a wide range of habit and foliage colour cultivars. Trunk often forked at the base; older specimens buttressed. Foliage sprays flattened, dull dark green above and pale below (except in the colored cultivars), sharply aromatic, generally with a fruity smell resembling that of apples. Scale leaves about 2.5 mm long in opposite pairs, the lateral ones pointed, ridged and overlapping the facials. Mature cones erect, oblong, about 1 cm long; scales 8-10, 4 fertile, eventually widespreading. Seeds with narrow marginal wings.

Grows naturally in dense forests on swampy ground or near watercourses also in montane areas to an altitude of c. 1000 m. The National Herbarium of Victoria has an extensive collection of cultivars collected at the Nobelius Nursery in Emerald in 1943, many of which are no longer available in the nursery trade.

E North America.

Generally distinguished from T. plicata by the the pale green, not white, banding on the lower leaf surface and said to have a fruity, not pungent, smell to the crushed foliage. The cones have 4 fertile scales, not 6 as in T. plicata.

VIC: Black Spur (top of spur, Dom Dom Saddle, 2 plants c. 8-10 m tall); Emerald Lake (above car park); Mt Macedon ('Alton').



Branches ccntorted

Unusual forms (narrow or more conical)





Source: Spencer, R. (1995). Cupressaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 1, Ferns, conifers & their allies. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

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Distribution map

Thuja occidentalis 'Bodmeri'

Conical, open, branches thick, irregular, sprays contorted. Assumed to have been raised in Switzerland.

Thuja occidentalis 'Caespitosa'

Dwarf, flattish, slow-growing, occasionally with a few needle leaves. Origin unknown but distributed from Glasnevin Botanic Garden, Ireland.

Thuja occidentalis 'Columbia'

Narrow, columnar, fast growing, branches spreading, tips whitish especially in winter, leaves pale green. Introduced from Parsons Nsy, Flushing, Long Is, New York, usa in 1887.

Thuja occidentalis 'Cristata Aurea'

Upright, rounded slow-growing bush with contorted yellow-green sprays. Origin f.j. Grootendorst Nsy, Boskoop, Netherlands, 1900.

Thuja occidentalis 'Danica'

Dwarf, roundish but broad, very slow-growing, leaves green. Raised from seed at Jensens Nsy, Orting, Denmark, 1948.

Thuja occidentalis 'Dumosa'

Dwarf, flattish to almost round with vertical cord-like shoots. Origin unknown.

Thuja occidentalis 'Elegantissima'

Dense, narrowly conical, leaves glossy green, yellowish at the tips of sprays when growth new. Origin unknown.

Thuja occidentalis 'Ellwangeriana'

Broad conical often with several main branches, dense, leaves both needle and scale-like. Raised Ellwanger &Barry, nurserymen, Rochester, ny, usa, before 1869. 'Rheingold' Retaining the juvenile needle foliage and the yellowish coloration, also with a coppery tinge in winter, but often reverting to type with age. Originated from seed variation introduced by Vollert Nsy, Lubeck, Germany. Vic: Castlemaine (below Burke &Wills monument).

Thuja occidentalis 'Ericoides'

Slow-growing, dense at first later more open with several main branches. Leaves soft, needle-like dull green to bronze. Often with many dead needles in centre. Chamaecyparis thyoides 'Ericoides' has similar bronze foliage but it is stiff to touch and grows erect. Origin USA nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Fastigiata'

Broadly columnar, quite tall growing, shoots growing both upwards and downwards. Sometimes grown from seed and hence variable as in the cultivar 'Pyramidalis' which is generally considered a synonym of 'Fastigiata'. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Filiformis'

Compact, conical to slightly rounded or sprawling, twigs long and filamentous, arching over. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Froebelii'

Dwarf, round, like 'Globosa' but leaves paler green. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Globosa'

Low-growing, globose, foliage pale grey-green, dense. Origin uk nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Gold Haze'

Loose, broadly conical bush of soft gold, overlayed bronze. Origin unknown.

Thuja occidentalis 'Golden Globe'

Fast-growing, forming a neat globe; foliage golden. Origin USA.

Thuja occidentalis 'Hetz Midget'

Slow-growing, round, dwarf, shoots stout. Leaves dark bluish green. Found as chance seedling, Fairview Evergreen Nurseries, Fairview, Pennsylvania, usa c. 1928.

Thuja occidentalis 'Holmstrup'

To medium size, dense, conical, leaves bright green. Raised a.m. Jensen, nurseryman, Holmstrup, Denmark 1951.

Thuja occidentalis 'Holmstrup'

S Yellow' Foliage dense, golden yellow. Originated and introduced by a. M. Jensen Nsy, Holmstrup, Denmark, 1951.

Thuja occidentalis 'Little Champion'

Dwarf, round, open-branched, leaves green. Discovered as seedling in 1935, McConnell Nursery, Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada, introduced 1956.

Thuja occidentalis 'Little Gem'

Dwarf, slow-growing, rather flattened, sprays twisted, rich green. Origin Spaeth Nsy, Berlin, Germany.

Thuja occidentalis 'Lutea Nana'

A smaller version of 'Lutea' growing to 2 m tall or so with dense yellowish foliage becoming richer yellow in winter. Origin usa.

Thuja occidentalis 'Lutea'

Medium size, conical, foliage golden yellow at the tips. Raised before 1873 in usa.

Thuja occidentalis 'Malonyana'

Dense, columnar tree. Discovered in the park of Count Ambrosy-Migassi at Milonya, Hungary c. 1913.

Thuja occidentalis 'Ohlendorffii'

Dwarf, two sorts of shoots, slender and hardly branched with leaves alternately scale-like, and needle-like in alternating opposite pairs. Raised by nurseryman Ohlendorff of Hamburg, w. Germany, before 1887.

Thuja occidentalis 'Pendula'

Weeping, irregular with the stem and branches whippy, and tips drooping, leaves bluish to grey green. Raised c. 1857 in Standish Nursery, Bagshot, England.

Thuja occidentalis 'Pumila'

Compact, flat-topped shrub becoming conical; foliage dark green. Origin Germany nineteenth century.

Thuja occidentalis 'Smaragd'

Compact, conical, open branching, leaves glossy green. Selected d.t. Poulsen, nurseryman, Kelleriis, Denmark 1950 as a sport of 'Kelleriis Viridis' which is not cultivated in Australia.

Thuja occidentalis 'Snow Queen'

Broadly columnar with creamy foliage bronzing in winter. Grows c. 2 m in 10 years. Origin unknown.

Thuja occidentalis 'Spiralis'

Narrow columnar to conical, the short branches appearing spiralled and twisted, foliage sprays fern-like, dark green. Origin usa 1920s.

Thuja occidentalis 'Sunkist'

Fast-growing, conical, dense, golden yellow. Selected in Netherlands before 1960.

Thuja occidentalis 'Wareana Lutescens'

As 'Wareana' but more compact with pale yellow leaves in spring and early summer sometimes becoming coppery in winter. Origin h.a. Hesse Nsy, Weener-on-Ems, Germany.

Thuja occidentalis 'Wareana'

Dense, columnar, sprays fan-like, branches widespreading. Raised g. Weare, nurseryman, Coventry, England, c. 1827.

Thuja occidentalis 'Woodwardii'

Dwarf, round, sprays exceptionally flat, rich green on both surfaces and held vertically. Originated Reading Nurseries, Massachusetts, usa, 1872. Foliage cream-colored

Thuja occidentalis 'Yellow Ribbon'

Foliage yellowish. Origin F.A. Ruizendal & Son, Waverveen and introduced G.E.F. Bolwijn, Putten, Netherlands.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Pinopsida
order     Pinales
family      Cupressaceae
genus       Thuja L.