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What is Cedar

The Western Red Cedar is not actually a cedar, but belongs in the Cupressaceous family, along with cypresses. It is known by many names, Pacific red cedar, British Columbia cedar, canoe cedar, giant cedar, or just red cedar. Licata, the species name, derives from a Greek word meaning "folded in plaits", a references to the pattern of its small leaves. It is one of two arborvitaes native to North America. Arborvitae comes from the Latin for "tree of life". Coincidentally, Native Americans of the West coast also address the cedar as "long life maker".

The western red cedar is a large tree, ranging between 40 to 150 feet (12 to 45 meters) tall and up to 22 feet (7 meters) in trunk diameter. Trees growing in the open will exhibit a crown that reaches the ground, whereas trees densely spaced together will only exhibit a crown at the top, where light can reach the leaves. Some individuals can live nearly a thousand years, if not more. Certain specimens on Queen Charlotte Islands are around nine hundred years old.

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