Atlantic White Cedar
Atlantic white cedar, Chamaecyparis thyoides, is also called juniper, southern white cedar and swamp cedar. It is a wetland species growing in a narrow belt along the eastern coast from southern Maine to Mississippi. The largest acreage of Atlantic white cedar is found in the swamps of North Carolina. Cedar also occurs along stream drainages and within Carolina bays of our Sandhills and Coastal Plain regions.
Historically, early settlers valued the strong, light weight, easily worked, decay resistant wood for building materials, such as shingles, shakes, posts, or siding, and as a preferred wood for boat building. In the 1800s and 1900s cedar forests were extensively logged. Today, cedar forests remain valued for their wood products as well as their many ecological and wetland benefits.
Unfortunately, North Carolina’s cedar stands failed to regenerate after logging because of extensive drainage, agricultural clearing, and fire prevention. As a result, cedar swamps have declined by more than 95% and are now considered a globally threatened ecosystem. In 1894 cedar was growing on 200,000 acres in eastern North Carolina. Today, less than 10,000 acres remain.
Recognizing Atlantic white cedar’s ecological and economic value, many organizations and private landowners, including the North Carolina Forest Service (NCFS), advocate for the conservation, restoration, management, and use of Atlantic white cedar across its natural range.
Contact your county forest ranger if you're interested in managing your land for Atlantic white cedar.