En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - May 23, 2007

From: Nebo, KY
Region: Southeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Flat leaf cedar, Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae)
Answered by: Jimmy Mills


Hello, I am looking for the scientific name for what is commonly called flat leaf cedar. It has defined platelets, wonderful cedar smell, older trees have shaggy bark, in winter some of its sprays turn brown and drop, has small cones in clusters, sometimes used as tea, used by Native Americans, can grow quite tall, branches droop... Thank you very much.


Thuja occidentalis (arborvitae) is the scientific name of the flat leaf cedar, and USDA Plants will show you an image. Interestingly, it is probably the first North American tree introduced into Europe, it was discovered by French explorers and grown in Paris about 1536. The year before, tea prepared from the foliage and bark, now known to be high in vitamin C, saved the crew of Jacques Cartier from scurvy. It was named arborvitae, Latin for "tree-of-life," in 1558. Click here and scroll down to find a recipe for flat cedar tea. More information about arborvitaes can be found at this website.





More Plant Identification Questions

Plant identification
April 04, 2010 - There's a wildflower growing on my patio its leaves look like the leaves of a lute leaf sage, it has a flower stalk with yellow flowers. The stalk is about a one foot high. What is the name of it?
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant at UGA Trial Gardens 15 years ago
August 14, 2012 - Looking to identify a plant that was in UGA trial gardens about 15 years ago, large plant with purple flowers, fuzzy leaves like a lambs ear. Thought it started with a Thiobana or something like that
view the full question and answer

Book for identifying Texas plants by dichotomous key from Seguin TX
October 12, 2009 - What is the best book(s) for identifying Texas plants using a dichotomous key?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
November 08, 2012 - I have visited this page and 18 more! I am still trying to find a plant that I found on a creek that runs through our land. I have pics. Great ones! Can I send the pic? If you like it, use it. I ...
view the full question and answer

Identity of vine growing in New Jersey
July 03, 2012 - Hello! I am hoping you may be able to help me out in identifying a vine plant that has started to grow from under my deck, through the lattice and up the outside of my deck. I bought the house 2 y...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center