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Northern White Cedar

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Northern White Cedar

Northern White Cedar

Call this tree the canoe conifer Native Americans of the Great Lakes region knew northern white cedar's value. Its wood was light yet strong enough for canoe ribs, and easily split along the growth rings to form the thin planking that was covered by birch bark. The tree also provided an oil that they extracted from twigs and foliage to relieve chest congestion. When lumbermen first entered the vast forests where the northern white cedar grew, they instead harvested the abundant white pine. Except for furnishing decay-resistant wood to shingle bunkhouses, the northern white cedar was ignored. But by the turn of the century, as its use for cooperage, posts, poles, and shingles became appreciated, northern white cedar reached record harvest levels of nearly 100 million board feet per year. Loggers in the northern Great Lakes states, Maine, and Canada still harvest northern white cedar. Like more familiar cedars, it is durable for everything outdoors, from fences and decks to boats and furniture.


Continued on page 2:  Wood identification


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