E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Thuja plicata Donn ex D. Don
western redcedar (western red cedar)
Cupressaceae (Cypress family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Bryan Kelly-McArthur  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #70299)

E-Flora BC Static Map
Distribution of Thuja plicata
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This is an evergreen coniferous tree species that is common in British Columbia

Species Information

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Large tree, up to about 60 m tall; mature trees generally fluted and buttressed at the base; branches tend to spread, or droop slightly and then upturn; the branchlets spray-like, strongly flattened horizontally; bark ridged and fissured, readily tearing off in long thin strips; wood aromatic; growing 'tip' (leader) drooping.
Scalelike, somewhat overlapping, closely pressed to stem, in opposite pairs; glossy yellowish-green, turning brown and shedding with age.
Seed cones green when immature, brown, egg-shaped, and 8-10 mm long when mature; pollen cones minute and reddish, numerous.
This is the provincial tree of BC.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Blooming Period:
Mid Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Wet to moist floodplains, river terraces and slopes, often rich with nutrients from seepage or fluvial deposits, or rich parent material, in the lowland and montane zones; common along the coast and SC to SE BC, locally frequent in C BC; N to SE AK and S to N CA, N WA, ID and MT

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Thuja plicata

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 718 2750
Slope Gradient (%) 0 25 410
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 256 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 4 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(258), CWH(3985), ESSF(620), ICH(5032), IDF(474), MH(36), MS(144), PP(9), SBS(89)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant to shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to subalpine, Western North American evergreen conifer distributed more in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs predominantly in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude, elevation, and continentality. One of the most common trees in central and southern B. C.; often forms pure stands on floodplains and wetland sites. As does yellow-cedar, western redcedar tolerates a nearly complete edaphic range, and develops a very dense root system: the latter feature may explain its abundance on very steep, seepage-affected, and often unstable colluvial soils. Most productive on submontane, fresh to moist, nutrient-rich soils within cool mesothermal climates. Characteristic of cool temperate and mesothermal forests.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References