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
October 09, 2008 - I have a random flower growing out of my rabbit's grave and I can not identify it. Nothing like it grows around us and I didn't plant anything there. The petals are white. There are five of them. Th...
view the full question and answer

Plant identifcation
October 05, 2009 - I have 3-4' high plants, spaced out thick red-greem stalks, w/slender long dark green leaves, several round "single" light lavender colored flowers 1&1/2" in circumference continuously bloom. Butt...
view the full question and answer

Recognizing poison ivy
June 20, 2007 - I am having a difficult time identifying poison ivy. It seems so many plants look like poison ivy can you help me I don't want to kill everything but on the same hand I don't want to itch. Thanks f...
view the full question and answer

Identity of a plant with opposite leaves in Washington
June 09, 2009 - My friend just bought a house and in the front yard are some bushes. I don't have a picture, but they are only 1-2 feet tall now. They have these unusual stems, throughout the entire bush. They are v...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification for plant near Lake Tahoe
June 07, 2012 - Looking to figure out what this plant is: grows along water ways, moist areas in Lake Tahoe. Looks tropical. Only seen small versions of it but it looks like miniature bamboo with a softer stem and br...
view the full question and answer

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