The western redcedar is found mainly in Western Canada and the United States. In the past, Amerindians sculpted totem poles and dugout canoes up to 66 feet (20 metres) long from western redcedar logs. One of these canoes is on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.
A large tree, the western redcedar grows to more than 198 feet high (60 metres) and can live up to 800 years.
Being intolerant of dry periods and intense heat, it is found in wet, even oppressively wet regions. The ocean climate suits it perfectly. Yet, paradoxically, it can also be found in dry but very acid soils.
It seldom occurs in pure stands, and is usually mixed with other species such as Douglas-fir, Sitka spruce and western hemlock.
Its wood has a characteristic cedar odour, and is soft and light. It has yellow sapwood, and pinkish-brown heartwood.
Highly resistant to decay, western redcedar wood is valued for shakes, shingles, poles, posts, boat-building, patios, exterior siding and window frames.
Needles, in the form of overlapping scales.
Fruits, small brown cones with a few scales.