Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata Atrovirens) is among the most vitally important and aesthetically pleasing of all hedging plants…
The Western Red Cedar is native to western North America, a member of the Cupressaceae family and a cultivar of the Western (Pacific) Redcedar. Its common name is increasingly spelt Redcedar to distinguish it from true Cedars to which it is NOT related.
It is the soft-wood timber tree par excellence and the quality of its wood is appreciated and exploited right across the modern world. And ‘twas ever thus – archaeological evidence across its native region shows that Western Red Cedar has been widely and gratefully used by the indigenous people for at least 8,000 years. Indeed, it is the very building block of their civilisations with all parts of the tree being used for everything from housing to musical instruments; canoes to clothing; ceremonial objects to eating utensils. Indeed, Western Red Cedar was so important, a myth evolved to explain how it came into being: “The Great Spirit declared that on the death of a generous man who gave anyone anything they needed, a great tree would grow on top of his grave that would also be useful to all the people…” The spirit of this myth can also be found in Thujas’ alternative Latin name of arborvitaes – tree of life.
For all this talk of trees and timber, though. we must also remember with a little – and simple – horticultural adjustment, Western Red Cedar can be easily grown into a dense, hardy and particularly attractive evergreen hedge that even offers the added pleasure of delicate pineapple-scented foliage.