Belfast Botanic Gardens Tree Archive

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This is one of a series of short articles about trees in the Belfast Botanic Gardens compiled by the Friends group. The tree tag number relates to the BCC black tree maintenance tags, usually fixed on the tree trunk, 2 to 3m above ground level.
Family: Cupressaceae
Thuja plicata Donn ex D.Don
Western red cedar

Black tag 62&63
54o 34.990N
5o 56.097W

Thuja plicata, the Western red cedar, is a native of Western North America where it is usually found in mixed populations with Douglas fir and Western hemlock. It can grow to as much as 70m tall and individuals may live for over 1000 years. In spite of the name it is not a true cedar. It can be distinguished from many superficially similar conifers by the distinctive pineapple scent of the crushed leaves and the pointed cones. While not really suitable for a small garden, it can be maintained as a hedge. The species name means 'plaited' from the appearance of the close-packed leaves. The wood is of considerable commercial importance.

Thuja plicata in Belfast Botanic Gardens

Thuja plicata foliage

Western red cedar in Belfast Botanic Gardens Leaves of Western red cedar
Thuja plicata leaf detail Thuja plicata female cones
Detail of 'plicate' leaves of Western red cedar Female cones of Western red cedar

Thuja plicata female cone

Thuja plicata bark

Female cone - detail Distinctive reddish bark of Western red cedar

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2009. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.

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