Nature Notes

Vol. VI August 15, 19228 Summer Season No. 4

THE WESTERN RED CEDAR. (Thyua plicata)

If we term the Douglas Fir "king" of the Northwest forests the companion honor of "queen" is rightly deserved by this large and magnificent tree-the Western Red Cedar. It, like the Douglas Fir, inhabits the densely timbered slopes where the reddish-brown bark with its "corded" appearance and flat, scale-like foliage are features which make its identification an easy matter. Due to this flat, scale-like character of the foliage, this tree probably causes more comment upon the part of visitors than even the Douglas Fir.

The Western Red Cedar played a very important role in the early development of the Northwest for its straight, even grained wood, which splits very easily. It was this character that aided the early settlers in the construction of their dwellings and the necessary household equipment--they were not forced to hew material for these purposes as was the case in the settlement of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Many of the old cabins about the base of Mount Rainier are built of this split cedar lumber and an admirable example of this kind of handiwork is contained in the old Longmire Homestead Cabin just a few minutes walk from the Park Headquarters along the Trail of the Shadows.

This tree, although it bears that name, is not in the true sense a cedar. It is a close relative of the Eastern White "Cedar", more commonly known as Arborvitae which belongs to the same tree group or genus--Thuya. This genus is one of the oldest tree groups that we are accustomed to find in our forests at the present time. Its lineage dates back into the earth's early formative periods and thousands of years ago it occupied a much larger portion of the globe than it does at the present time.

By C. F. Brockman, Information Ranger.

sketch of Western Red Cedar needles and cones

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