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Chamaecyparis thyoides (Atlantic white cedar)
Wasowski, Sally and Andy

Chamaecyparis thyoides

Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) Britton, Sterns & Poggenb.

Atlantic White Cedar

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Chamaecyparis henryae, Chamaecyparis thyoides var. henryae, Cupressus thyoides, Cupressus thyoides ssp. henryae

USDA Symbol: CHTH2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Evergreen, aromatic tree with narrow, pointed, spirelike crown and slender, horizontal branches. Atlantic white-cedar is a columnar, evergreen tree, 40-75 ft. high, (often taller in the wild), with short, ascending branches and blue-green, scale-like leaves on twigs spreading in a fan-like manner. At maturity, the trunk is devoid of branches for 3/4 of its length. Bark is ashy-gray to reddish-brown.

Ancient logs buried in swamps have been mined and found to be well preserved and suitable for lumber. Pioneers prized the durable wood for log cabins, including floors and shingles. During the Revolutionary War, the wood produced charcoal for gunpowder. One fine forest is preserved at Green Bank State Forest in southern New Jersey. As an ornamental, this species is the hardiest of its genus northward.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 75 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Bluish

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Green
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May


USA: AL , CT , DE , FL , GA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , SC , VA
Native Distribution: Coastal Plain from s. ME to FL & MS
Native Habitat: Swamps & bogs, chiefly on coastal plain but extending inland to scattered localities

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Moist, sandy soil.
Conditions Comments: This species thrives in a cool, moist atmosphere where it is protected from drying winds. It is relatively free of serious disease or insect problems and not susceptible to apple-cedar rust. It does not compete with hardwood species.


Description: Seed germination is usually low, due in part to poor seed quality, and also to embryo dormancy. Softwood or semi-hardwood cuttings are the principal means of propagation.
Seed Collection: Cones mature in Sept. and Oct. at the end of the first growing season. Each cone scale bears from 1-5 winged seeds.
Seed Treatment: Warm-moist stratify for 30 days then stratify 30 more days at 40 degrees. A cool-moist stratification alone may improve germination also.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Additional resources

USDA: Find Chamaecyparis thyoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chamaecyparis thyoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chamaecyparis thyoides


Record Modified: 2015-11-16
Research By: TWC Staff

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