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Northern White Cedar Thuja occidentalis
Last updated by Larix813 on 3/16/2019 9:45:08 PM

Northern White Cedar
Thuja occidentalis


The great Northern White Cedar. It may not be the largest tree species in the BWCA, but it is undoubtedly the oldest. Individuals have been found near 1000 years of age in the BWCA (though the three mile island trees have unfortunately burned in the 2007 Ham Lake Fire.) Northern White Cedar does not compete with other trees for height, but has adapted to grow where no other trees can. It grows in swamps where it dominates by shading out and outlasting competitors. Even ancient trees, long ago blown over in windstorms, continue to grow as long as roots are in the ground. Cedars can be found growing straight out of cracks in the granite, or right over the top of boulders. They live the longest in these rocky places, particularly on islands, where periodic fires cannot reach them for centuries. In good, moist soil, Cedars can grow quite large (such as the giant that watches over the portage between South Knife and Hanson) or they can be tiny, stunted by poor soil. Young trees are particularly vulnerable to browse from species such as White Tailed Deer which decimate reproduction of the species. They can be identified by their light bark that forms in strips up and down the tree and their scale shaped leaves.

For more information, check out the USDA profile of the species here.


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