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Atlantic White Cedar (Chaemaecyparis thyoides)
Family: Cupressaceae    
                 
    blacklocustleaves

Location:

  • found in open conditions with acidic soils, or pure stands in swamp forests
  • this specimen found in a peat (sphagnum) bog in Ponkapoag Bog, Massachusetts

Characteristics:

  • deciduous tree
  • Height 15-27m (50-90 feet)
  • distinctive reddish, fibrous, “catscratch” bark
  • oil glands on leaves

 

 

 
   

 

Uses:

  • Springy live branches used in fire starting to make a bow drill, a tool used in ignition of a pile of tinder
  • Flaky bark useful for making cordage and tinder in fire-starting
  • Bark rich in Vitamin C; historically eaten as scurvy preventative

Leaves:

  • opposite, evergreen, dull blue-green, scale-like sprays
  • 1-3 mm (1/16-1/8 in) long
  • contain glands that secrete oil which prevents rot and discourages moths
  • particularly aromatic crushed leaves
       
      Atlantic White Cedar Leaf  
         

 

Bark:

  • reddish-brown, thin, and fibrous, with “catscratch” appearance
 
    cattails  
   

 

Notes:

  • Chaemaecyparis thyoides is not a member of the same family as Cedrus “true cedars”, like Cedar-of-Lebanon and other Mediterranean Cedars.
  • Also known as the Arbor Vitae (“tree of life”).

 

         
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