northern white-cedar

Thuja occidentalis Linnaeus

Arborvitae (meaning "tree of life") is a medium-sized, slow-growing forest tree rather common in the northeastern part of the state, less frequent in the central and western parts. Dense arborvitae swamps are common in Madison County and northward and eastward. In the Adirondack region it also occurs frequently outside the swamps. The wood is light, soft, brittle, coarse-grained, light yellowish brown in color, and durable in contact with the soil. It is used extensively for fence posts and small poles.

Bark - ashy gray to light reddish brown, separating in long, narrow, flat, shreddy strips, often more or less spirally twisted.

Twigs - decidedly flattened, arranged in fan-shaped clusters, and not to be confused with the leaves which cover the last season's growth; with the death of the leaves in the second season, the twigs become reddish brown in color and shiny.

Winter buds - extremely minute, almost covered by the scale-like leaves.

Leaves - scale-like, yellowish green in color, aromatic when crushed, borne in pairs closely overlapping; on leaves of leading shoots, glandular dot conspicuous in center of leaf.

Fruit - An oblong, erect cone, 1/2 inch long, reddish brown in color, persists through the winter. Cone scales - 6 to 12, open to the base at maturity in autumn of the first season. Seeds - 1/8 inch long, in pairs, nearly surrounded by broad wings.

Distinguishing features - cones with few scales; dot in center of flat, scale-like leaf.

1a. White-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) BSP), a coastal plain tree, closely resembles the arborvitae.

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