Thuja occidentalis, Arborvitae, Northern White Cedar

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic 

This native tree of northeastern and north central North America* can be very long-lived; along the cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment in Canada, specimens could be over 1,000 years old. The common name, which means “tree of life,” refers to the medicinal properties of the bark and foliage, which cured scurvy.

Print Version: Thuja occidentalis, Arborvitae, Northern White CedarMGNVorg Thuja occidentalis


Learn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets.


Tags: Cupresses x leylandii – Leyland Cypress, Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Juniperus chinensis – Chinese Juniper, Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Rhamnus cathartica – European Buckthorn, Keep roots in cool, moist soil; likes light pm shade, Rhamnus frangula – Glossy (or Shining) Buckthorn, Protect from strong wind, snow, and ice damage; buy specimens with single rather than multiple trunks that may split apart from heavy snow/ice, Taxus cuspidata – Japanese Yew, Use as specimen, hedge, or in rain gardens (>150 sq ft) *In the Mid-Atlantic Region, it is not native to DC and DE. It occurs sporadically in PA. In MD, it is found in Montgomery and some of the northwestern counties. In VA, it is infrequent in the mountains and it is native to only one site in the Piedmont. Tolerates clay soil, air pollution, and Black Walnut No serious pests or diseases; deer frequently severely damage, especially in winter browsing twigs and branchlets (may need protection), Slow growing but can be very long-lived Ethnobotanic uses, but may be harmful if eaten, Provides food and cover for birds, Single- or multi-trunked evergreen tree with columnar or conical shape, Branches with flat sprays of dark green foliage, Reddish-brown cone from August to December, Foliage turns yellow/brown-green in winter, Red-brown exfoliating bark on mature tree