wpe5.jpg (2127 bytes)U.P. TREE  IDENTIFICATION  KEY
from Michigan State University Extension

Northern White-Cedar, Other Cedars
Cupressaceae, the Cedar Family



The cedar or cypress family occurs nearly world-wide and include 15 genera and about 140 species.  There are some oddballs in the cedar family.  The family has scale-shaped or awl-shaped needles.   Fruits are small papery cones or berry-like.  In the U.P., the only common member is northern white-cedar.  In a few places, eastern redcedar may be found.



Cedar.jpg (43377 bytes)   NORTHERN WHITE-CEDAR   (Thuja occidentalis)
Other Names:   Arborvitae, Swamp Cedar, or White-cedar
  Key ID Features:  Scaly needles, Cones, Bark, Habitat


Cedar is the only member of the family Cupressaceae in the U.P.   Most folks will recognize cedar from its unique leaves and bark.  Foliage is a series of overlapping SCALES.  The SCENT is peculiar to cedar.  BARK is brown and stringy, even on large trees.  CONES are under a half-inch long and look more like capsules than cones.  During good seed years, heavy cones crops can be mistaken for browning foliage.  Cedar is one of the few trees that can reproduce by "layering".  Mature cedar usually grows to 40 or 50 in HEIGHT with DIAMETERS up to 2 or 3 feet.  On wet, POOR SITES, cedar will not get much taller than 25 feet and diameters will rarely exceed 5 or 6 inches.  The development is often best on UPLAND SITES, especially on the limestone soils along Lake Michigan.  Cedar can live to be several hundred years old, one of our longest-lived U.P. tree species.  The wood is rot-resistant and, as a result, has commonly been used for fence posts, corduroy roads, and saunas.  Cedar log homes are becoming increasingly popular.

Another common name for cedar is "arborvitae", the latinized form of the French phrase "l'arbre de vie".  Translated, it means the "tree of life".  A awful-tasting tea of cedar reportedly cured early European explorers of scurvy, perhaps, because of a high vitamin C content.  Common pests: Phomoposis, deer


Eastern Redcedar  (Juniperus virginiana)
From further south and east, a SHARP-NEEDLED cedar of small size.  Most common on DRY SITES.  The blue berry-like FRUITS have been used to distill gin. 


Common Juniper   (Juniperus communis)
Similar to the other junipers, it occurs widely in many places, espe cially old fields and sandy soils.  NEEDLES tend to be in whorls of three, rather than opposite.  Junipers
are used for ornamentals, including a number of horticultural varieties

Creeping Juniper  (Juniperus horizontalis)
In the wild, creeping juniper is commonly found on ROCK OUTCROPS in colonies. 
FRUITS are blue "berries".  Occurring in parts of the U.P. from Ontario. 

Click HERE to return to the Conifer Key.
Click HERE to return to the home page.

A note about the images on this website, click here.

This site created and maintained by Bill Cook, MSU Extension Forester for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.   Editing and modification is ongoing.  Submit suggestions, questions, and corrections to cookwi@msu.edu or call 906-786-1575.