Thuja occidentalis
Overview
Thuja occidentalis is an evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 coniferous
Pinophyta
The conifers, division Pinophyta, also known as division Coniferophyta or Coniferae, are one of 13 or 14 division level taxa within the Kingdom Plantae. Pinophytes are gymnosperms. They are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue; all extant conifers are woody plants, the great majority being...

 tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

, in the cypress family Cupressaceae
Cupressaceae
The Cupressaceae or cypress family is a conifer family with worldwide distribution. The family includes 27 to 30 genera , which include the junipers and redwoods, with about 130-140 species in total. They are monoecious, subdioecious or dioecious trees and shrubs from 1-116 m tall...

, which is widely cultivated for use as an ornamental plant known as American Arbor Vitae
Arbor vitae
-Anatomy:* Arbor vitae , white matter of the cerebellum* arbor vitæ uteri, a part of the canal of the cervix* Victorian slang for penis-Places:* Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, a town, United States...

. The endemic occurrence of this species is a northeastern distribution in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. It is thought to be the first tree of that region to be cultivated in the area in and around Europe.

Common names include: Tree of Life, Yellow Cedar, American Arborvitae, Arbor Vitae, Atlantic White Cedar, Cedrus Lycea, Eastern White Cedar, False White Cedar, Hackmatack, Lebensbaum, Thuia du Canada, Thuja.
An evergreen tree with fan-like branches and scaly leaves.
Encyclopedia
Thuja occidentalis is an evergreen
Evergreen
In botany, an evergreen plant is a plant that has leaves in all seasons. This contrasts with deciduous plants, which completely lose their foliage during the winter or dry season.There are many different kinds of evergreen plants, both trees and shrubs...

 coniferous
Pinophyta
The conifers, division Pinophyta, also known as division Coniferophyta or Coniferae, are one of 13 or 14 division level taxa within the Kingdom Plantae. Pinophytes are gymnosperms. They are cone-bearing seed plants with vascular tissue; all extant conifers are woody plants, the great majority being...

 tree
Tree
A tree is a perennial woody plant. It is most often defined as a woody plant that has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground on a single main stem or trunk with clear apical dominance. A minimum height specification at maturity is cited by some authors, varying from 3 m to...

, in the cypress family Cupressaceae
Cupressaceae
The Cupressaceae or cypress family is a conifer family with worldwide distribution. The family includes 27 to 30 genera , which include the junipers and redwoods, with about 130-140 species in total. They are monoecious, subdioecious or dioecious trees and shrubs from 1-116 m tall...

, which is widely cultivated for use as an ornamental plant known as American Arbor Vitae
Arbor vitae
-Anatomy:* Arbor vitae , white matter of the cerebellum* arbor vitæ uteri, a part of the canal of the cervix* Victorian slang for penis-Places:* Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin, a town, United States...

. The endemic occurrence of this species is a northeastern distribution in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. It is thought to be the first tree of that region to be cultivated in the area in and around Europe.

Common names include: Tree of Life, Yellow Cedar, American Arborvitae, Arbor Vitae, Atlantic White Cedar, Cedrus Lycea, Eastern White Cedar, False White Cedar, Hackmatack, Lebensbaum, Thuia du Canada, Thuja.

Description

An evergreen tree with fan-like branches and scaly leaves. Unlike the closely related species, Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata
Thuja plicata, commonly called Western or pacific red cedar, giant or western arborvitae, giant cedar, or shinglewood, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae native to western North America...

 (Western Redcedar), it is only a small tree. Growing to a height of 10–20 m (32.8–65.6 ft) tall with a 0.4 metres (1.3 ft) trunk diameter, exceptionally to 30 metres (98.4 ft) tall and 1.6 metres (5.2 ft) diameter, the tree is often stunted or prostrate. The bark
Bark
Bark is the outermost layers of stems and roots of woody plants. Plants with bark include trees, woody vines and shrubs. Bark refers to all the tissues outside of the vascular cambium and is a nontechnical term. It overlays the wood and consists of the inner bark and the outer bark. The inner...

 is red-brown, furrowed and peels in narrow, longitudinal strips. The foliage forms in flat sprays with scale-like leaves
Leaf
A leaf is an organ of a vascular plant, as defined in botanical terms, and in particular in plant morphology. Foliage is a mass noun that refers to leaves as a feature of plants....

 3–5 mm (0.118110236220472–0.196850393700787 in) long. The cones
Conifer cone
A cone is an organ on plants in the division Pinophyta that contains the reproductive structures. The familiar woody cone is the female cone, which produces seeds. The male cones, which produce pollen, are usually herbaceous and much less conspicuous even at full maturity...

 are slender, yellow-green ripening brown, 10–15 mm (0.393700787401575–0.590551181102362 in) long and 4–5 mm (0.15748031496063–0.196850393700787 in) broad, with 6-8 overlapping scales. The branches may take root if the tree falls.

Northern whitecedars found to be growing on cliff faces in southern Ontario are the oldest trees in Eastern North America and all of Canada, growing to ages in excess of 1,653 years old.

Distribution

Thuja occidentalis is native
Species distribution
Species distribution is the manner in which a biological taxon is spatially arranged. Species distribution is not to be confused with dispersal, which is the movement of individuals away from their area of origin or from centers of high population density. A similar concept is the species range. A...

 to Manitoba
Manitoba
Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of . The province has over 110,000 lakes and has a largely continental climate because of its flat topography. Agriculture, mostly concentrated in the fertile southern and western parts of the province, is vital to the province's economy; other...

 east throughout the Great Lakes Region
Great Lakes region (North America)
The Great Lakes region of North America, occasionally known as the Third Coast or the Fresh Coast , includes the eight U.S. states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as well as the Canadian province of Ontario...

 and into Québec
Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

, Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

, Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...

, New Brunswick
New Brunswick
New Brunswick is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the only province in the federation that is constitutionally bilingual . The provincial capital is Fredericton and Saint John is the most populous city. Greater Moncton is the largest Census Metropolitan Area...

, and Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

. Isolated populations exist to the south in Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

.

Naming and taxonomy

The species was first described by Carolus Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

 in 1753, and the name remains current.
Common names include Eastern Arborvitae, American Arborvitae, Techny Arborvitae, or just Arborvitae, the last particularly in the horticultural
Horticulture
Horticulture is the industry and science of plant cultivation including the process of preparing soil for the planting of seeds, tubers, or cuttings. Horticulturists work and conduct research in the disciplines of plant propagation and cultivation, crop production, plant breeding and genetic...

 trade. This name, arbor vitae, is derived from the tree of life
Tree of life
The concept of a tree of life, a many-branched tree illustrating the idea that all life on earth is related, has been used in science , religion, philosophy, mythology, and other areas...

 motif - for the supposed medicinal properties of the sap, bark and twigs. Other names by which it is known include Northern Whitecedar, Eastern Whitecedar or White Cedar, and Swamp Cedar. Thuja occidentalis trees are unrelated to cedars, or to the Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

n tree, Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach
Melia azedarach is a species of deciduous tree in the mahogany family, Meliaceae, that is native to Pakistan, India, Indochina Southeast Asia and Australia...

, also known as White Cedar. A large number of names for cultivars are used by horticulturalists.

Ecology

Thuja occidentalis grows naturally in wet forests, being particularly abundant in coniferous swamp
Coniferous swamp
Coniferous swamps are forested wetlands in which the dominant trees are lowland conifers such as northern white cedar . The soil in these swamp areas are typically saturated for most of the growing season and are occasionally inundated by seasonal storms or winter snow melt.The substrate is usually...

s 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
Deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 numbers; deer find the soft evergreen foliage a very attractive winter food, and strip it rapidly. The largest known specimen is 34 m tall and 175 cm diameter, on South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island
South Manitou Island is located in Lake Michigan, approximately west of Leland, Michigan. It is part of Leelanau County and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The uninhabited island is in land area and can be accessed by a ferry service from Leland...

 within Leelanau County, Michigan
Leelanau County, Michigan
-History:The county's name is said to be a Native American word meaning "delight of life", but it is a neologism made up by Indian agent and ethnographer Henry Schoolcraft, who sometimes gave the name "Leelinau" to Native American women in his tales. He created many faux Indian place names in...

.

It can be a very long-lived tree in certain conditions, with notably old specimens growing on cliffs where they are inaccessible to deer and wildfire
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

; the oldest known living specimen is just over 1,100 years old, but a dead specimen with over 1,650 growth rings has been found. These very old trees are, despite their age, small and stunted due to the difficult growing conditions. The Witch Tree
Witch Tree
The Witch Tree as it is commonly known, also called Manidoo-giizhikens, or Little Cedar Spirit Tree by the Ojibwa Indian tribe is an ancient Thuja occidentalis growing on the shore of Lake Superior in Cook County, Minnesota...

, a T. occidentalis growing out of a cliff face on Lake Superior
Lake Superior
Lake Superior is the largest of the five traditionally-demarcated Great Lakes of North America. It is bounded to the north by the Canadian province of Ontario and the U.S. state of Minnesota, and to the south by the U.S. states of Wisconsin and Michigan. It is the largest freshwater lake in the...

 in Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

, was described by a French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 explorer as being a mature tree in 1731; it is still alive today.

Uses

White Cedar is a tree with important uses in traditional Ojibwe culture. Honoured with the name Nookomis Giizhik ("Grandmother Cedar"), the tree is the subject of sacred legends and is considered a gift to humanity for its myriad uses. It is used in craft, construction and medicine. It is one of the four plants of the Ojibwe medicine wheel
Medicine wheel
Medicine wheels, or sacred hoops, were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone, and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with "spokes", or lines of rocks radiating from the center...

, associated with the south. The foliage of Thuja occidentalis is rich in Vitamin C
Vitamin C
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient for humans and certain other animal species. In living organisms ascorbate acts as an antioxidant by protecting the body against oxidative stress...

 and is believed to be the annedda
Aneda
The evergreen aneda was used by Jacques Cartier and his men as a remedy against scurvy in the winter of 1535–1536. It is generally believed to have been Thuja occidentalis, a common tree in Quebec also known as Arborvitae...

 which cured the scurvy
Scurvy
Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C, which is required for the synthesis of collagen in humans. The chemical name for vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is derived from the Latin name of scurvy, scorbutus, which also provides the adjective scorbutic...

 of Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a French explorer of Breton origin who claimed what is now Canada for France. He was the first European to describe and map the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, which he named "The Country of Canadas", after the Iroquois names for the two big...

 and his party in the winter of 1535–1536. Due to the neurotoxic compound thujone
Thujone
Thujone is a ketone and a monoterpene that occurs naturally in two diastereomeric forms: -α-thujone and -β-thujone. It has a menthol odor. Even though it is best known as a chemical compound in the spirit absinthe, recent tests show absinthe contains only small quantities of thujone, and may or may...

, internal use can be harmful if used for prolonged periods or while pregnant.

Thuja occidentalis is widely used as an ornamental tree, particularly for screens and hedge
Hedge (gardening)
A hedge or hedgerow is a line of closely spaced shrubs and tree species, planted and trained in such a way as to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area. Hedges used to separate a road from adjoining fields or one field from another, and of sufficient age to incorporate larger trees, are...

s. Over 300 cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s exist, with some of the more common ones being: 'Degroot's Spire', 'Ellwangeriana', 'Hetz Wintergreen', 'Lutea', 'Rheingold', 'Smaragd' (a.k.a. 'Emerald Green'), 'Techny', and 'Wareana'. It was introduced into Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 as early as 1540 and is widely cultivated now, especially in parks and cemeteries.

Northern white cedar is commercially used for rustic fencing and posts, lumber, poles, shingles and in the construction of log cabin
Log cabin
A log cabin is a house built from logs. It is a fairly simple type of log house. A distinction should be drawn between the traditional meanings of "log cabin" and "log house." Historically most "Log cabins" were a simple one- or 1½-story structures, somewhat impermanent, and less finished or less...

s, White cedar is the preferred wood for the structural elements, such as ribs and planking, of birchbark canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

s and the planking of wooden canoe
Canoe
A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

s.

The essential oil within the plant has been used for cleanser
Cleanser
A cleanser is a product used to cleanse something, such as a detergent or industrial cleaning agent.A popular type of cleanser is a facial care product that is used to remove make-up, dead skin cells, oil, dirt, and other types of pollutants from the skin of the face...

s, disinfectants, hair preparations, insecticide
Insecticide
An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind...

s, liniment
Liniment
Liniment , from the Latin linere, to anoint, is a medicated topical preparation for application to the skin. Preparations of this type are also called balm...

, room sprays, and soft soaps. There are some reports that the Ojibwa made a soup from the inner bark of the soft twigs. Others have used the twigs to make teas to relieve constipation
Constipation
Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation...

 and headache
Headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the...

.

In the 19th century Thuja was in common use as an externally applied tincture or ointment for the treatment of warts, ringworm and thrush. "An injection of the tincture into venereal warts is said to cause them to disappear."

External links

  1. Gymnosperm Database: Thuja occidentalis
  2. Borealforest.org: Thuja occidentalis
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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