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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

aka American Arborvitae, Arborvitae, Atlantic White Cedar, Cedrus Lycea, Eastern White Cedar, False White Cedar,
Hackmatack, Lebensbaum, Thuia du Canada, Thuja, Tree of Life, Yellow Cedar

(Thuja occidentalis)
ALSO SEE: True Cedar

Contains THUJONE which is toxic in excess!
Leaves TOXIC if eaten!
Oil is abortifacient and convulsant!
Not used for PREGANT WOMEN!
Not used for anyone with a dry, irritant cough indicating
a stagnant mucous condition of the lungs!
Not used in cases where diarrhea is present!

CONTRAINDICATED: During pregnancy or when diarrhea is present.

CONTAINS: Thujone (toxic), pinene, caryophyllene, pinipicrin, tannin, resin, a bitter principle.

An evergreen tree to 60 feet which is native to eastern Canada and the United States and found west to Wisconsin and south to the Carolinas. Was introduced into Britain about 1565 A.D. It is aromatic with a balsamic odor and a bitter taste. LEAVES are scaly and dark green above, pale beneath. The female CONES are 1/2 inch long with scales in 4 to 5 pairs.

The wood is soft, light and easily worked and has long been of commercial value. Before Europeans first arrived in North America, Native Americans had long used this versatile tree for medicine and to produce the artifacts necessary to daily life. The twigs were official in the USP from 1882 to 1894 as a uterine stimulant and diuretic and in the NF from 1916 to 1936. The distilled leaf oil was official in the USP 1942-1950 as a heart and uterine stimulant, and antiseptic. It also appeared the on the Candian list of Medicinal Plants. During wartime in North America, the oil was used as a substitute for lavender oil due to a shortage.

Associated with the Wands of Tarot and as a study aid to the 4's. Astrologically associated with Mercury.

PROPAGATION: By SEED in late winter; by SEMIRIPE CUTTINGS in summer or early fall. There is some indication from old writings that LAYERING works as well.
NEEDS: Thuja species plants can be damaged by pruning. Zone 3.
PART USED: Young leaf sprays, Oil (distilled from the young leaf sprays), Bark, Seeds.
CHINESE ARBORVITAE (Thuja orientalis syn Biota orientalis): Same CAUTIONS apply! Native to Asia and noted in Chinese medical writings circa 659 BC. Grown as an ornamental in deep, moist soil in sun, preferably in a sheltered position. Hardy to -50ºF. Susceptible to Armillaria root rot. Propagation is by seed in late winter or semiripe cuttings in summer or early fall. Seeds are collected from ripe cones in autumn and dried. The foliage [ce bai ye] and seeds [bai ri zen] are used. Considered bitter, astringent, cooling, hemostatic, uterine stimulant, expectorant, antibacterial (foliage), sedative, mild laxative (seeds). Has been used to control coughs, hemorrhage, excess menstruation, bronchitis, asthma, skin infections, mumps, bacterial dysentary, arthritis, premature baldness (foliage), palpitations, insomnia, nervous problems, elderly constipation (seeds).
SANDARAC (Thuja articulata): Native to the northern reaches of Africa. The resin was once used as a medicine and for ointments and plasters; also, once used in India for hemorrhoids and diarrhea, and the tincture for depression. Used at one time as varnish and incense. During the days of quill and pen, the powdered seeds were sprinkled on paper to keep the ink from blotting after a strike-out.

ALBA: Tips of the branchlets are white
AUREA: Bushy tree with deep yellow leaves
AUREA VARIEGATA: Leaves variegated green/yellow
BODMERI: Thick, clumpy growth pattern
BOOTHII: Low, compact growth with large leaves
BUCHANANII: Pyramidal form with grayish-green leaves
BURROWII: Yellow leaves
COLUMBIA: Leaves variegated with silver
CONICA: Cone-shaped habit
CRISTATA: Dwarf form with stout crowded branchlets
DOUGLASII AUREA: Bronzy-yellow leaves
DOUGLASII PYRAMIDALIS: Dense pyramid growth with fern-like branches
ELEGANTISSIMA: Narrow cone shape with glossy green leaves
ELLWANGERANA: Low grow habit with both adult and juvenile leaves
ELLWANGERANA AUREA: Yellow leaved variety of above
ERICOIDES: Dwarf, bushy growth with needle-shaped leaves
FASTIGIATA: Columnar growth with short branches
FILICOIDES: Narrow pyramidal growth habit with pinnate branchlets
FROEBELI: Dwarf growth habit
GLOBOSA: Dwarf, rounded growth habit with bright green leaves
HOLLANDICA: Roundish growth habit with green leaves
HOVEYI: Dwarf, round habit with bright green leaves
INTERMEDIA: Compact dwarf
LUTEA: Pyramidal growth habit with flattened branchlets
NIGRA: Compact growth with dark green leaves
OHLENDORFII: Bush growth
PENDULA: Weeping habit
PUMILA: Dense dwarf form with dark green leaves
RECURVA NANA: Dwarf form with recurved branchlets
REIDII: Dwarf form with spreading habit
RIVERSII: Compact pyramidal shape with yellowish-green leaves
ROSENTHALII: Columnar shape with dark green glossy leaves
SEMPER-AUREA: Gold-yellow leaves
SMITHIANA: Low, compact growth habit with leaves turning almost purple in fall
SPIRALIS: Branchlets appear to be growing in a spiral pattern
UMBRACULIFERA: Dwarf with an umbrella-like top
VERVAENEANA: Small, dense habit with bronze toned branchlets in winter
VIRIDIS: Narrow pyramidal form with glossy dark green leaves
WAGNERI: Globose form with dark green leaves
WOODWARDII: Dense, round shpae with dark green leaves


Bitter, astringent, camphorous, fruity scent, expectorant, antifungal, antiviral, uterine stimulant, emmenagogue, diuretic, hemostatic, antipyretic, sedative, nervine, mild laxative, system cleansing (toxins); affects heart, uterus, lungs, liver, colon, and nerves. Also said be anti-aphrodisiac.
The charcoal has been used externally as an antiseptic and internally as a sedative and vermifuge and to treat fever, congestion, and fetid mouth ulcers.
A decoction of the young leaf sprays has been used for intermittent fever, rheumatism, dropsy, coughs, scurvy, nervousness, anxiety, deficient heart blood, palpitations, insomnia, frequent urination as a result of loss of muscle tone, to counteract the side effects of innoculations or vaccines (10 drops tincture four times a day for 4 days).
Has been used for bronchial problems related to congestive heart failure.
The young twigs have been used in infusion form to treat bronchitis, dry, irritating cough, weakness of the heart and delayed menses.
Has been used for cancer therapy.
Has been used for urinary infections, cystitis, psoriasis, eczema (has been combined with Witch Hazel for moist eczema), absense of menses, side effects of vaccinations, dysentary, suppressed cough, venereal warts (an injection of the tincture directly into the wart).
Has been used externally for vaginal infections, warts, rheumatism, achy muscles, psoriasis, and fungal infections.
Has been combined with Male Fern (Aspidum filix-mas) for uterine bleeding.
Leaves have been boiled in lard to make a salve to use on rheumatic pain. The fresh leaves were pounded in a mortar and mixed with lard, then heated together in the top of a double boiler until the herb material was spent. Probably several hours. This was then spread on a cloth and applied.
The dried leaves have been used as a powder for burns.
Was used by Native Americans for menstrual problems, headache, heart disease and rheumatism (tea); some boiled the juice expressed from the ends of the branches to treat bloody flux. The Penobscots used the leaves in a poultice for swollen hands and feet. The Montagnais steeped the bruised twigs to make an infusion used to induce sweating. The Lake St-John Montagnais beat the twig ends to a mash, then steeped them in boiling water and placed them over the heart for 1 or 2 nights for heart/chest pains. The Flambeau Ojibwa made a tea for headache and used the inner bark in the sweat lodge to cure a cough. The Pillager Ojibwa used a decoction as a blood purifier and cough remedy.The Menominees used the leaves as a smoke smudge to revive the unconscious, and used the inner bark, steeped as a tea, for delayed menses; they also made use of the plant to season other medicines. The Forest Potawatomi used the leaves as a poultice and as a seasoner in compound medicines. The Mohawk boiled the tips of the branches in milk, then added half a pound of grease for each gallon and soaked cloth in the liquid and applied it to an area of paralysis; the application was repeated nine times, the number being significant (probably in a religious manner). The Micmac and Malecite used the white cedar for burns, tuberculosis, coughs, headache, swollen feet and hands, toothache.
In Chinese medicine has been used to treat heated blood syndrome and to stimulate blood circulation.

All others buy commercial preparations and follow directions carefully!
INFUSION = 1 oz of young leaf sprays to 1 pint of boiling water, steeped, then taken 1 tbsp at a time.

Used in perfumery.
A major ingredient of incense, usually in the form of sawdust.
The leafy branchlets are commercially distilled for oil, then the toxic Thujone is removed to render it safe for use as a flavoring in meat products, baked goods, candy, alcoholic beverages, perfumed soaps, paints, and insecticides.
Used in liniments.
Used in insect repellents.
The oil has been used to repel vermin.
The charcoal was once used as a tooth powder.
Has been used as a smudge to repel insects.
Has been used as a smudging herb in Earth religions (the dried twigs are crumbled and burnt over charcoal). Also used to invoke Wotan (either the incense or a wand/staff of the wood), and in a Baby Blessing ritual (incense). It is believed that amethyst and sapphire are best stored in a box of cedar.
Early settlers to North America used cedar branches for brooms; used the wood for fences, house beams and cellar supports. It later became used for railway ties, telegraph poles and canes. The twigs were placed among clothes to repel moths.
Some Native Americans made a set of fire-starter sticks using one of white cedar (with a hole and notch at one end to create fine dust) and the other a turning stick of hard wood.
Native Americans made use of the wood for framing and ribbing their canoes/boats. Some eastern tribes made armor and helmets from the wood.
The Hurons of North America used the branches for bedding in the belief that snakes were repelled by the odor.
The Flambeau Ojibwa used the leaves as perfume and incense, and placed them on hot coals for purification rituals; they once used the stringy bark to makes bags and sometimes mats. The Forest Potawatomi also used the smudge for purification and to exorcise evil spirits, as well as using the rolled bark for torches to hunt at night.
The Pillager Ojibwa used leaves and twigs as incense and for the sweat bath (some tribes used the inner bark in particular).
The Ojibwas has a way of nullifying the effects of bad dreams. They would scrape the tongue with a symbolic knife of cedar, then throw the knife into the fire.
The Cree combined the dried powdered foliage with tobacco for ritual use in the medicine pipe.
An old superstition was to carry a small piece of Cedar in the wallet to attract money (hmm...wonder if it works).
Old folklore says Unicorns loved cedar boxes to store their treasures.


There are four species of evergreen trees that comprise the True Cedar group. All are native to zones 6 and 7 of North Africa and Asia. All have some commercial value.

ATLAS CEDAR (Cedrus atlantica syn Cedrus libani subsp atlantica) image aka Satinwood: Zone 7. An evergreen tree to 100 feet with short, bluish-green leaves (less than 1 inch long). Cones are up to 3 inches long. Cultivars include 'Argentea' (silvery-white leaves), 'Aurea' (yellow leaves), 'Fastigiata' (narrow-conical growth habit), 'Glauca' (glaucous leaves), and 'Pendula' (weeping habit).

CYPRUS (Cedrus brevifolia) image: Zone 7. Leaves are less than 1 inch long and cones about 3 inches long.

DEODAR CEDAR (Cedrus deodara) image : Zone 7. Native to the Himalayas. The branchlets are hairy and have a drooping habit. Dark bluish-green leaves grow to 2 inches long, the cones to 5 inches long. An important timber tree in India. Cultivars include: 'Aurea' (yellow leaves), 'Compacta' (slow-growing, dense, rounded habit), 'Pendula' (weeping habit), 'Prostrata' (low growing), 'Robusta' (stiff leaves, vigorous grower), 'Verticillata' (compact growth with bluish-white leaves), and 'Viridis' (deep green leaves).

CEDAR of LEBANON (Cedrus libani) image : Zone 6. Native to Asia Minor and the famed tree of the Bible. Evergreen to 100 feet. Leaves are less than 1 inch long being dark or bright green. Cones to 4 inches long.

NEEDS: Grown as an ornamental in well-drained soil in sun. Can be susceptible to Armillaria root rot.
HARVEST: Branches are cut up for oil distillation or dried for use.
PART USED: Wood, oil


Antiseptic, nervine, fungicidal; stimulates circulatory and respiratory systems.
Has been used for skin diseases, ulcers, dandruff, blenorrhea.
Inhalation has been used for bronchitis, tuberculosis, anxiety and associated tension.

Fabric items are stored in cedar lined chests to deter moths and other insects.

The oil was used for embalming in Egypt.
In Tibet the oil has been burned for incense.
The wood has been used to line the walls of cabinets, chests, closets, carpet shops (Turkey) to deter insect pests, notably moths.
The oil is used in perfumery and soapmaking.
The wood has been used in cabinetry.

©2005 by Ernestina Parziale, CH