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Atlantic White Cedar

Chamaecyparis thyoides

Chamaecyparis thyoides
Atlantic white cedar

State Heritage Status Rankings

Alabama (S3), Connecticut (SR), Delaware (S4), Florida (S?),
Georgia (S2), Maine (S2), Maryland (S3), Massachusetts (SR), Mississippi (S2),
New Hampshire (S3), New Jersey (S5), New York (S3), North Carolina (S3),
Pennsylvania (SX), Rhode Island (SR), South Carolina (SR), Virginia (S3)


Atlantic white cedar is a small to medium-sized evergreen tree which grows up to 20 to 28 m in height and up to 1 m dbh with tight, fibrous, light gray-brown bark. The bark of leafless twigs is brown and smoothish. Some mature specimens may have twisting or spiraling on the trunks. Atlantic white cedar has evergreen, bluish-green, leaves of two types. The so-called “juvenile foliage” is produced on fast-growing branchlets, with needle-shaped, spirally arranged leaves approximately 5 to 8 mm in length. The so-called “mature foliage” is produced on flattened branchlets up to 1 mm in width with scale-like leaves that are opposite with successive pairs at right angles to each other. The leaves of the "mature foliage" are 1.5 to 3.0 mm in length, each with an inconspicuous resinous dot (gland) on the undersurface. Male or ovulate cones are produced singly at the the ends of short branchlets and the staminate cone usually being produced on branchlets at the extemity of a branch system. The ovulate cones are produced farther back. The male cones are very small with a few opposite peltate scales with succeeding scale pairs formed at right angles to each other. Each scale produces 3 to 4 anther cells marginally beneath. Ovulate cones of peltate scales are arranged as in the staminate most often in 3 to 6 pairs. The scales are pointed, each with 1 to 2 ovules attached basally. Maturing cones are leathery and the edges of the scales are fit tightly against each other. Mature cones are 5 to 8 mm in diameter. Seeds are 3 to 4 mm in length, nearly as broad, brown in color, and laterally winged (Patrick et. al. 1995). Atlantic white cedar can survive for up to 1,000 years of age however, stands rarely survive more than 200 years (NatureServe 2003).


Atlantic white cedar is found on wet, sandy terraces along clear and brown water cool streams and in acidic bogs; often growing with sweet pitcherplant (Sarracenia rubra). The species may also inhabit depressions in pine flatwoods (Patrick et. al. 1995).


Atlantic white cedar is found from a narrow belt along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from southern Maine to northern Florida then westward to southern Mississippi (Patrick et. al. 1995).


  • Godfrey, R. K. 1988. Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines of Northern Florida and Adjacent Georgia and Alabama. The University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. P. 41.

  • NatureServe. 2003. Internet Resource. NatureServe.

  • Patrick, T.S., Allison, J.R., and Krakow, G.A. 1995. Protected Plants of Georgia: AN INFORMATION MANUAL ON PLANTS DESIGNATED BY THE STATE OF GEORGIA AS ENDANGERED, THREATENED, RARE, OR UNUSUAL. Georgia Natural Heritage Program. Internet Resource. Protected Plants of Georgia.

  • Radford, A.E., Ahles, H.E., Bell, C.R. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  • USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. Internet Resource USDA Plants Database. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

  • Weakley, A.S. July 2002. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia, Working Draft. Internet Resource. Flora of the Carolinas and Virginia.