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Arborvitae, American Thuja occidentalis

American Arborvitae - Thuja occidentalis
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The narrow, pyramid shape makes it a natural choice for windbreaks. Tall and elegant, it requires almost no care when used as a hedge or screen. Pairs of these hardy trees make great accents for doors and garden gates while single specimens soften house corners. Single specimens can grow to 40'-60' with a spread of up to 15' in the wild, but 20'-30' with a 12' spread in urban settings is more typical. Plant 3 feet apart for hedge. (zones 3-7)

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Zones 3 - 7 Zones 3 - 7
Hardiness Zones 3 - 7
The American Arborvitae can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Evergreen Evergreen
Type of tree
Evergreens
40' - 60' High 40' - 60' High
Mature Height
The American Arborvitae grows to be 40' - 60' feet in height.
10' - 15' Spread 10' - 15' Spread
Mature Spread
The American Arborvitae has a spread of about 10' - 15' at full maturity.
Slow to Medium Growth Slow to Medium Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a slow to medium growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This arborvitae does well in full sun.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil
The American Arborvitae grows in acidic, drought tolerant, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well drained, wet, wide range, clay soils.
Pyramidal Shape Pyramidal Shape
Shape
This arborvitae has pyramidal shape.
Attributes

A dense, often broad-pyramidal tree with short ascending branches to the ground which end in flat, spreading, horizontal sprays; usually one trunk, but multiple trunks may occur. Useful as a specimen or accent, good for hedges, shelter-belts, commonly used as a foundation plant.

Description

The narrow, pyramid shape makes it a natural choice for windbreaks. Tall and elegant, it requires almost no care when used as a hedge or screen. Pairs of these hardy trees make great accents for doors and garden gates while single specimens soften house corners. In the wild single specimens commonly grow 40' to 60' with a spread of 10'-15'. In urban settings a height of 20' to 30' with a 12' spread is more typical. Plant 3 feet apart for hedge. (zones 3-7)

Wildlife Value

Providing shelter in the winter and nesting sites for grackles, robins and house finches in the summer, this evergreen also provides food in the form of browse for deer, cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hares and occasionally moose. The seeds are eaten by red squirrels, and birds such as pine siskins.

History/Lore/Use

The name arborvitae, is a Latin form of the French, "l'arbre de vie," which means, "tree of life." Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who assigned the Latin name to this species, picked up on other traits. The genus name, Thuja, is from a Greek word for perfume. Squeezing the evergreen leaves releases an aroma that is nothing less than nature's perfume.

The native North American tree, America Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis), was useful in early canoes and medicines and became the first North American tree to be introduced to Europe. The specific name, occidentalis, means "west," the direction from Sweden where this tree was discovered.

Leaves

Bright green foliage in summer changing to a multitude of rich yellow-brown-green hues in the winter.