Western Redcedar

Western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
Thuja plicata

Western redcedar is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree native to the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.

The foliage forms flat sprays with scale-like leaves in opposite pairs, with successive pairs at 90 degrees to each other. The small cones dangle off the ends of the branches.

Western redcedar is a large tree, reaching 100-200 feet tall and 9′ or more trunk diameter at maturity. The largest known Western redcedar grows near the northwest shore of Lake Quinault near Aberdeen, Washington. It is over 170 feet tall and nearly 20 feet in diameter.

Western redcedar is among the most widespread trees in the Pacific Northwest, often found growing with Douglas-fir and Western hemlock in lush forests, as well as in forested swamps and along streambanks. The tree is shade-tolerant, and able to reproduce under dense shade.

In the American horticultural trade, it is sometimes called Giant Arborvitae. The name Western redcedar is also sometimes split into three words as ‘Western Red Cedar’ (though this can be confusing, as it is not a true cedar).

Native American Uses

Western redcedar is one of the most culturally significant trees for Native American people of the Pacific Northwest. Its wood, bark, and branches have dozens of practical uses, ranging from tools and housing to cloth and ceremonial implements. Nearly every part of traditional indigenous culture uses redcedar in some fashion, and some northwest coast tribes even refer to themselves as “people of the redcedar,” so central it is to their identity and way of life.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 100-200ft
  • Mature Width: 30ft