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Atlantic White Cedar

Chamaecyparis thyoides

Atlantic white cedars can form dense stands. (dogtooth77/Flickr)
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Atlantic white cedars can form dense stands. (dogtooth77/Flickr)

The Atlantic white cedar is a tall evergreen tree with scaly, fan-shaped foliage and a cone-like shape. It grows in swamps, marshes and other wet areas near the coast in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. 

Appearance:

  • Fan-like sprays of scaly, flattened, green or bluish-green leaves
  • Young trees have needle-like leaves
  • Tree tapers to a point, giving it a cone-like shape
  • Tiny, rounded, light blue cones
  • Tiny, green or reddish-yellow flowers that appear in March-April
  • Reddish-brown bark
  • Can grow to 75 feet tall

Habitat:

  • Grows in low, wet areas, including freshwater marshes, swamps, river banks and wet woods
  • Forms dense stands

Range:

  • Grows in a narrow portion of the Chesapeake Bay’s coastal plain, including Delaware, Maryland and Virginia

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • Cones mature at the end of the first growing season, in September-October
  • During a good year, as many as 8-9 million seeds may be disbursed per acre in dense cedar stands
  • Each cone contains 5-15 winged seeds, which are spread by wind
  • Seeds can remain viable on the forest floor for many years
  • Seedlings grow into saplings at about one foot per year
  • Individual trees may live up to 1,000 years, but it is rare for stands to live longer than 200 years

Other Facts:

  • Although it is called a cedar, the Atlantic white cedar is actually a cypress
  • Leaves are very aromatic
  • Songbirds and white-tailed deer use Atlantic white cedars as food
  • White cedar charcoal was used to make gunpowder during the Revolutionary War

Sources and Additional Information:




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