Arborvitae AKA Northern White Cedar
Thuja occidentalisHere is a tree you'll see during the search for quite a few urban caches. After many pine-y finds, I am grateful for the "softness" of the needles of the Arborvitae.
We're still reading _Discover Nature in Winter_ by Elizabeth Lawlor. Following the Chapter on Cedars ('Cedars' is misleading, since none of the chapters is as limited as the title suggests), we learned about evergreens and gymnosperms. The arborvitae is a plant that falls into both categories. For a fun quiz on your knowledge of angiosperms and gymnosperms, see here.
Here is one of the drawings the kids made. Each child took a different evergreen sample to draw. I am putting this one up here because I was able to get a good photo of it -- it is nice and flat. [Don't ask about the picture rotating. Blogger keeps wanting to rotate for me, no matter which side I say is "up."]
As the book instructed, we crushed the tips and smelled the distinguishable aroma. This involved a hammer for the boys, a hand for the girls.
Nature-Wise has a very interesting perspective on this plant, listing its value to Native People, native animals, and Immigrants.
From Ohio Trees: Arborvitae has scale-like leaves, which along with its twigs form flattened sprays that are soft to the touch, rather than prickly (as in Eastern Redcedar). While Eastern Redcedar prefers warmer (southern) climates, Arborvitae prefers colder (northern) climates, with Ohio in the middle ground between these two in terms of geographic distribution. [Juliecache notes here that North America does not have any true cedar trees. If you read the Chapter, you'll understand.]
Arborvitae is perhaps the most popular evergreen consumed by deer and other mammals during winter, and its evergreen canopy provides cover for mammals and birds year-round. In many parts of Ohio, it is seen as one of the frequent evergreens in cemeteries. When found in the open, non-compact forms may reach 30 feet tall by 10 feet wide. As a member of the Cypress Family, it is related to Eastern Redcedar, False Cypress, and other species of Arborvitae.