Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata)
Scaled leaves and deeply grooved bark captivate audiences and make the Western redcedar a popular and beloved tree in the West. In its lifespan of 200-300 years, while reaching heights of 200 ft and potentially a width of 30 ft, this conifer is an essential food source for elk and deer populations and provides shelter and habitat for many animals. The Western redcedar boasts its grandeur throughout its Pacific coast range, from California to Alaska and as far east as Montana.
It is regarded as the ‘tree of life’ among Native American tribes for its many useful, healing, and spiritual properties. Traditionally, the wood was used for shelters, canoes, and firewood. Its inner bark was used to weave baskets and could also be compacted to make a fiber for clothing. These uses have expanded to include shingles, siding, and furniture. The leaves are also a popular commodity used to make scented soaps, perfumes, and lotions.
This hearty tree is resistant to pests and decay and performs best in wet, shady areas.
Rosie McGoldrick, 2020-2022 AmeriCorps Education & Events Specialist
Featured Photo Credit: Krzysztof Ziarnek- Own Work, BY SA 4.0