Habitat Information: Grows by lakes, riparian edges, uplands and dry sites, with special adaptation to grow on cliffs and talus slopes. Well drained soil, swampy sites in various soil types. White tailed deer eat it and use it for shelter. Has been known to age to 400 years. (USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service) Eastern
White Cedar has wood that is decay resistant; this tree is commercially forested for a variety of lumber uses. Its habitat is cool, moist and high nutrient soils mainly on neutral to alkaline soils.
Insect Relationships: Insects and also pests (fungus or blight) of Eastern White Cedar include spider mites, cedar leaf miners, northern cedar bark beetles, shoot blight. (University of Guelph)
Garden Uses and Energy Conservaton: A large white cedar tree can be planted 1 metre from a house to provide energy savings. Colorado University did a study that concluded that landscaping changes can result in lowered heating bills by up to 25%. Tall evergreen trees have been proven to act as efficient natural windbreaks. Up to 60% of Ajax, Ontario’s annual residential energy savings bill has been calculated to be through the use of trees as winter windbreaks. (TRCA Landscaping for Energy to Conserve Energy)
Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses:
WARNING: White cedar essential oil contained in the leaves is aromatic and POISONOUS if taken in large quantities. Should NOT be used by pregnant women as it is also used to induce menstruation.
Native Peoples have used the pith of twigs to make soup. Inner bark has been cooked, dried, ground into powder, and used with wheat or cereal for bread. Leaves have been used to make highly aromatic tea, full of Vitamin C. The tea have been used for bronchitis, respiratory problems and as cough syrup. It was used in treating cystitis in children, and for bedwetting. Leaves were used in steambaths for rheumatism, arthritis, colds, as wash for swollen feet, for painful joints and for increasing blood circulation.
WARNING: Oil was used as expectorant and rubefacient(skin curative by irritation); used to promote menstruation; to relieve rheumatism. This volatile oil is TOXIC and overdoses have occurred. Should be used only under supervision of qualified practitioner. (Plants for a Future)
Aboriginals used Eastern White Cedar to prevent scurvy and taught this practice to French settlers, giving rise to the name arborvitae, or ""tree of life."" The Arbor-vitae sap contains vitamin C. (Kershaw)
Tribes of the north used it for frames for their canoes. (Peattie)
It was frequently used to make brooms.
Valuable for posts, poles, shingles, boat building, canoes and other uses where timber is exposed to decay, but where there is a little likelihood of mechanical wear.(Hosie, R.C. - Nat. Trees of CA)
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