Open the Advanced Search

Western Red Cedar

Thuja plicata

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Cupressaceae (Cypress)
Evergreen tree
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
70 metres tall
Gardens, parks, roadsides, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
The slender yellowish-green cones are small and have overlapping scales. Their seeds mature and turn brown in September and October.
Small, green, scale-like leaves very similar in appearance to Lawson's Cypress. The best way to distinguish the Western Red Cedar from Lawson's Cypress is by the fruit.
The leaves smell pleasantly of pineapple when crushed.
Other Names:
British Columbia Cedar, Canoe Cedar, Giant Arborvitae, Giant Cedar, Incense Cedar, Pacific Red Cedar, Red Cedar, Shinglewood, Western Arborvitae.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Thuja plicata, also known as western redcedar or Pacific redcedar, is a species of evergreen tree in the cypress family. It is native to the west coast of North America, where it is widely cultivated for its wood and as an ornamental plant. The tree is known for its conical shape, dense foliage, and reddish-brown bark. It grows well in moist, well-drained soil and is often found in gardens, parks, and along roadsides. Thuja plicata is a large tree that can grow up to 70 meters in height. It is commonly cultivated as an ornamental tree and is valued for its attractive appearance and fast growth rate. The wood of the tree is also used in construction, furniture, and papermaking.


Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) is a coniferous tree native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America. It is a highly prized species of wood that is used for a variety of purposes, including construction, decking, fencing, and exterior siding.

One of the key features that makes Western Red Cedar so valuable is its natural resistance to rot, decay, and insect damage. This makes it an ideal choice for outdoor applications where exposure to the elements is a concern. The wood also has a high natural oil content that helps to protect it from the elements and maintain its beautiful color and texture.

In terms of appearance, Western Red Cedar has a distinctive reddish-brown color that provides a warm, natural look to any project. The wood also has a fine, straight grain pattern that gives it a uniform and attractive appearance. Additionally, the wood is light in weight and has a soft, yet strong and durable texture, making it easy to work with for a variety of applications.

Another benefit of Western Red Cedar is its sustainability. The tree is native to the Pacific Northwest and is harvested from well-managed forests, which helps to ensure a steady supply of the wood while maintaining the health and well-being of the forest ecosystem.

When it comes to using Western Red Cedar in construction and other applications, there are many different options available. The wood can be left in its natural state, or it can be treated with preservatives or stains to enhance its natural beauty and protect it from the elements. Western Red Cedar can also be milled into a variety of different shapes and sizes to meet the specific needs of each project.

Western Red Cedar is a versatile and durable wood species that is well-suited for a variety of outdoor applications. Its natural resistance to rot, decay, and insect damage, combined with its attractive appearance, light weight, and sustainability make it a popular choice for builders and homeowners alike.

Aside from its practical uses, Western Red Cedar also has a rich cultural history and holds significant meaning to many Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest. For example, the Haida people of the coast of British Columbia use the tree in traditional carvings, such as totem poles, masks, and canoes. The tree is also a valuable source of food and medicine for many Indigenous communities.

The Western Red Cedar is also a valuable source of wildlife habitat, providing shelter and food for a variety of species, including deer, birds, and small mammals. It is also an important part of the forest ecosystem, helping to maintain soil stability and water quality.

In terms of care and maintenance, Western Red Cedar is relatively low-maintenance and does not require any special treatment. However, it is important to keep the wood protected from the elements and to regularly clean and treat it to maintain its natural beauty and durability.

Overall, Western Red Cedar is a unique and valuable species of tree that offers a wealth of benefits for both people and the environment. Whether you are building a new home, constructing a deck, or simply looking for a beautiful and durable material for your next project, Western Red Cedar is a great choice.

In addition to its outdoor applications, Western Red Cedar is also a popular choice for indoor projects. The natural aroma and warmth of the wood make it a popular choice for saunas, interior paneling, and flooring. The wood is also ideal for creating furniture, such as chests, wardrobes, and other storage solutions.

When selecting Western Red Cedar, it is important to choose lumber that is certified by organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure that it has been sustainably harvested and processed. Additionally, it is important to choose lumber that has been properly kiln-dried to prevent warping and twisting over time.

In terms of cost, Western Red Cedar can be more expensive than other wood species, but its durability, natural beauty, and low maintenance requirements make it a worthwhile investment in the long term.

Finally, it is worth noting that Western Red Cedar has been found to have some interesting medicinal properties. Research has shown that the tree's oil has antifungal and antiseptic properties, and it has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions, respiratory problems, and digestive issues.

In conclusion, Western Red Cedar is a versatile and valuable species of tree that offers a wealth of benefits for both people and the environment. Its natural beauty, durability, and sustainability make it a popular choice for a variety of indoor and outdoor applications. If you are looking for a wood species that will stand the test of time, Western Red Cedar is definitely worth considering.


Western Red Cedar filmed in Silverdale, Lancashire on the 12th July 2022.


Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map