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The Difference Between Arborvitae and Thuja


Different suppliers will refer to some trees as either an Arborvitae or a Thuja. This has created confusion among individuals thinking that they are two different trees, however, they are the same species. Arborvitae and Thuja are tall and narrow evergreen trees that can be used for different designs in landscaping. In fact, they even have health benefits when it comes to medicine for certain treatments. Thujas are easily identifiable with the different factors that are identified as mentioned next.

The Difference Between Arborvitae and Thuja

How to Identify a Thuja

Thujas or Arborvitae is an evergreen species of trees. This means that the trees produce green leaves all throughout the year and will not change with the season. Their roots are a flat shape and their side roots are in a single plane. Leaves are an easy way to identify the species because they are short in length and, as young seedlings, they will have needle-like leaves. At the tips of the twigs on Thujas, there are small pollen cones. The seed cones will mature after six to eight months of growth with six to twelve thin, leathery scales that overlap and store one or two small seeds.

More developed thujas are also easily identifiable by their size and shape. Thujas can grow an amazing fifty to sixty feet in height and reach a width of between twelve to twenty feet. This is where the name Thuja Green Giant originates from, because of its tall and wide shape.

How are Thujas used in landscaping?

Thujas or Arborvitaes are great for creating borders within a landscape. By planting them three to four feet apart, they will grow lush green leaves that are thicker and when put in a row can create a wall. This is a good option if you are looking to close off a section in the landscape or if you want to create a wall shape around the border of your yard. It is important that you plant Arborvitae trees where they can receive around six hours of sunlight per day. Some landscapers will trim these trees into specific shapes to enhance the design.

Thujas can also be planted in pots for other design purposes in a landscape. However, planting Thujas in a pot will stunt their growth and will require more frequent watering. One of the main benefits that individuals use these species for is they add green to the landscape design throughout the year with little maintenance. This makes them an excellent choice for landscapers to include in their landscaping designs.

Other Benefits of Thuja

Thuja or Arborvitae trees are also used for the benefits of the oil that can be extracted from them. The leaves and oil from the leaves are used as a medicine to assist in respiratory tract infections such as bronchitis, as well as skin infections, and even cold sores. However, it is important that you consult a health care professional before using these oils and leaves as they can have negative side effects.

Additional Reading: American Arborvitae – Arbor Day Foundation

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