Thuja plicata - Western Redcedar

  • Posted on: 18 January 2018

For our team the most memorable documentation of Thuja plicata occurred in the Pacific Northwest in a magnificent old-growth forest in the Olympic Peninsula. In the northwest, this tree can reach enormous sizes (exemplified by Quinalt Lake Cedar, height 53 m and trunk about 6 m in diameter, b.h.; data published by Robert Van Pelt, 2001).

In the temperate rainforests locally the tree receives 3000 mm or more rainfall in a year, and lives under almost constantly humid and temperate climatic conditions – no severe cold, no really hot weather. Also, the wood, containing tropolones, has a good decay resistance, contributing to the long life span of the Redcedar.

The tree was a very important part of the native peoples living in the northwest: the wood, bark, foliage, and even the root was used for multiple purposes (for a good overview see Western Redcedar is in cultivation from the mid-1800s in the temperate zones and thrives very well even in sites much drier than most of its native habitats.

In Hungary, the oldest tree of Thuja plicata is found in Arboretum Alcsuthiense, planted in the middle of the 1800s at the property of Archduke Joseph (1776-1847), Palatine of Hungary for over 50 years. Two photos here show the lower trunk and rooted lateral branches of the tree that is today over 30 m high, 25 m wide and the girth of the main trunk is 350 cm (data from F. Halász).