Treevia – The ice tolerant Eastern White Cedar

All trees across south eastern Ontario were turned into enchanting ice sculptures recently. Some trees bore the burden of the glacial glaze elegantly, but others shed limbs or fell right over. If you take a quick look around, you may find there is a pattern to which trees survived intact and which bore scars or paid with their lives.

In general, ice damage is most severe in trees that can accumulate a lot of ice owing to their shape and size. Many broad-leafed trees with broad crowns and finely divided branch tips have a lot of surface area where ice can collect. Throw in some weak limb joints caused by ingrown bark and decaying branches weighed down with ice and there will be broken limbs. That said, white oaks, red oaks and black walnuts are said to be among the more ice resistant deciduous trees out there.

On the other hand, evergreen trees with coarse branching and a narrow pointed crown tend to accumulate less ice and hold up better to its weight. Eastern white cedars tend to be very resistant to ice damage. However, it is not uncommon for trees to get a bit bent out of shape if they get pummelled by ice in their youth. Hey, what doesn’t kill them gives them character!

Eastern white cedar with a conical narrow crown.
Eastern white cedar with a conical narrow crown.

White cedar is flexible in other ways too: it can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions from wet swampy areas, to dry shallow soils over limestone and even vertical cliffs. Ontario’s oldest trees are stunted and twisted eastern white cedars that are over 1,000 years old and still cling to the Niagara Escarpment cliff face. Just think how many ice storms they must have been through. White cedar make great hedge and windbreak trees. Plus their wood is resistant to rot and is used for fence posts and to build cedar-strip canoes!

Ancient white cedar growing on Niagara Escarpment cliff.
Ancient white cedar growing on Niagara Escarpment cliff.

Why not grow your own ice resistant trees? We have 23 species to choose from, but place your order early to get the best selection! You can order on-line using our new order form , or just give Ewa a call at 613-394-3915 ext 252 to choose your favourite trees. For all the details please see our website:

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