White-Cedar, Northern and Atlantic (Thuja occidentalis, Chamaecyparis thyoides)

White-Cedar, Northern and Atlantic is a domestic softwood


Two species of white-cedar grow in the eastern part of the United States: northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) and Atlantic white-cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides). Northern white-cedar is also known as arborvitae or simply as cedar. Atlantic white-cedar is also known as southern white-cedar, swamp-cedar, and boat-cedar. Northern white-cedar grows from Maine along the Appalachians and westward through the northern part of the Great Lake States. Atlantic whitecedar grows near the Atlantic Coast from Maine to northern Florida and westward along the Gulf Coast to Louisiana. It is strictly a swamp tree. Production of northern white-cedar lumber is greatest in Maine and the Great Lake States. Production of Atlantic white-cedar centers in North Carolina and along the Gulf Coast.


The heartwood of white-cedar is light brown, and the sapwood is white or nearly so. The sapwood is usually narrow. The wood is lightweight, rather soft, and low in strength and shock resistance. It shrinks little in drying. It is easily worked and holds paint well, and the heartwood is highly resistant to decay.

Primary Uses

Northern and Atlantic white-cedar are used for similar purposes, primarily for poles, cabin logs, railroad crossties, lumber, posts, and decorative fencing. White-cedar lumber is used principally where a high degree of durability is needed, as in tanks and boats, and for wooden ware.

*Much of the base wood information presented here is made available by the USDA FPL FS. If you are interested in a much more technical description of wood properties, I encourage you to visit the source.