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Atlantic White Cedar vs Northern White-Cedar

These two species only overlap in the wild in a small part of New England, but both are widely planted in landscaping. Both have scale-like foliage and seed cones that release wind-dispersed seeds. They can be easily told apart by their foliage as well as their seed cones; their bark is similar but has some differences. Not all trees can be distinguished by bark. Both prefer moist conditions, but Atlantic white cedar is more restricted to poorly-drained sites. Atlantic white cedar is limited to sites with acidic soils, whereas Northern White Cedar is most likely on more calcium-rich soils.

Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides)

Northern White-Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

A native evergreen conifer of acidic wetlands of the east coast.
A slow-growing, medium-sized coniferous tree of the northeast, found on moist sites and those with neutral to alkaline pH.
Foliage is finer, more rounded around the twig, and branches more irregularly.
Photo © Kevin Keegan, Public Domain.
Foliage is thicker, strongly flattened, and branches more, in a highly-regular pattern.
Photo © Quinten Wiegersma, CC BY 4.0.
Foliage bluish-green.
Photo © botanygirl, CC BY 4.0.
Foliage often yellowish, especially when growing in sun.
Photo © Alexis Godin, CC BY 4.0.
Unripe seed cones greenish but covered in pale whitish coating, more stout, spherical, and lumpy, with scales not as clearly visible.
Photo © Robert H. Mohlenbrock, Public Domain.
Unripe seed cones are green, longer and narrower, with clearly-visible scales.
Photo © Christian Grenier, Public Domain.
Bark averages more reddish; ridges tend to be narrower and often spiral around the trunk slightly.
Photo © C. Ben Schwamb, CC BY 4.0.
Bark averages more grayish; ridges tend to be wider, and are more consistently oriented vertically.
Photo © Wendelyn Bolles, CC BY 4.0.