Cupressaceae (cypress family) Thuja

Thuja occidentalis American arborvitae

Eastern North America
Thuja occidentalis
From: Howard E. McMinn & Evelyn Maino, An Illustrated Manual of Pacific Coast Trees

The leaves, which have a pleasant scent when crushed, are in the form of small overlapping scales hugging branchlets arranged in flat sprays disposed more or less horizontally. Numerous horticultural varieties are available, including variegated, golden, and dwarf forms. The cones are about ½ inch long. The commercially important lumber is traded as northern white cedar. American arborvitae has been known as white cedar, a name that is also applied to incense cedar, Port Orford cedar, California juniper, and other trees.

Specimens planted in the 1890s in the arboretum apparently have been lost, but one venerable survivor is at the Bakewell Building, 355 Galvez Street, at the north end (three fine Taxus baccata ‘Stricta’ near it were removed around 2005). One grows to the right of the front steps of Phi Sig, 1018 Campus Drive. Another nearby, on the Campus Drive side of Phi Kappa Psi, 592 Mayfield Avenue, was removed at some point after 2005.

Illustrations: cone comparisons of Thuja species.

Name derivation: Thuja – Greek name thuia for a type of juniper; occidentalis – western.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Phi Sig & Phi Kappa Psi locations added by John Rawlings sometime before 2014. Phi Kappa Psi noted as removed; all locations now up to date (SP, Sep 2020).