The western red cedar (scientifically known as the Thuja plicata) is a variety of softwood commonly found in the Pacific northwest United States and Canada. Unknown to many, the red cedar is actually not a cedar tree at all. It is, in fact, a juniper tree with several interesting uses to put it to. The tree grows up to two hundred feet in height, and can go on to live for more than a thousand years.


The western red cedar, quite literally, has a reddish hue; which can sometimes vary towards a pinkish brown, with surprise streaks and bands of darker red/brown areas.


The wood of the western red cedar features a slight grain, with a medium to coarse texture.


The western red cedar wood has several uses. It is most popularly known for making siding and shingles, fences, decks, doors and windows, outdoor furniture, boats, gazebos, etc. Being one of the lightest conifer woods, the red cedar’s soft texture makes it easy to work with without having to bring in any special equipment.

The western red cedar has strong aromatic scent which is often used in essential oils and perfumes.

It is also used in the making of musical instruments.


The western red cedar is known to be extremely durable. A fallen cedar tree, in fact, lasts for over a century without decomposing. This is possible due to a natural preservative that the red cedar wood contains, which is toxic to fungi and hence can’t cause decay. As the tree ages, this preservative gains more strength, thereby making it quite an asset.


The Quinault Lake Red Cedar, found on the northwest shore of Lake Quinault near the Olympic National Park in Washington, is known to be the largest known Western red cedar in the world, with a total height of over 150 feet and a trunk that spans over 18 feet in diameter.

The western red cedar is known to be the world’s most sustainable resource, as it produces fewer greenhouse gases compared to alternative resources as well as generates less water and air pollution and requires less energy to produce. This makes it one of the most popular timber for building purposes, as it easily accepts a range of finishes or can be left untreated to obtain a natural silver-grey hue over time.