Its Northern Home.—Its Favorite Soil.—Its Attainable Height and Size.—Uses and Properties of its Wood.—Its Ornamental Advantages.—Manner of Planting Explained.—Its Varieties.—Important Varieties.—Its Medicinal Properties.
This tree is quite common in the northern section of the United States and the Dominion of Canada, but is only found in the more southern portions of the country as a green-house tree, and then only in a very puny, sickly state. It grows best in swamps, on the rocky banks of streams, borders of rivers, ponds, etc. It usually reaches to the height of from fifty to sixty feet, with a diameter of from eighteen to twenty inches. In the neighborhood of the Great Lakes it is called the white cedar, but the name arbor-vitAe being more appropriate, I prefer to use it. The wood of this tree is light, soft, and very elastic, and withstands the changes of weather for a great number of years; it is frequently used for posts, rails, telegraph-poles, etc., many of which have been known to last for from sixty to seventy years. It is a very ornamental hedge-tree, and bears training and pruning to any extent, so much so that trees that have been trained and pruned with compact foliage keep a much more ornamental appearance than those of more open foliage. For hedge-planting, plant the trees eighteen or twenty inches apart in single rows; for a wind-break plant from thirty to forty inches apart in a double row, and plant in such a way that the trees of the back row fill the spaces between the trees of the front row. Although eminently a swamp tree, it grows well on most any free, cool, fertile soil, except stiff clays. When planted for timber it should be planted close together. It thrives from layers or cuttings. It produces a variety of trees by cultivation from seed, some of which are very beautiful, among which are some with silver-tipped leaves, others of a golden hue, and some dwarfed varieties, so that there is a wide field for experiment among cultivators. The following are some of the most important varieties: Siberian arbor-vitse, a tree of very slow growth; gigantic arbor-vitse, an immense tree found in Oregon; Nee's arbor-vitse, a very hardy variety found on the Pacific coast; Chinese arbor-vitas, of value only as an ornamental tree, and Japanese arbor-vita?, a very ornamental tree, much more so than the American variety, as it has beautiful, light, graceful branches and foliage. Regarding the medicinal properties of this tree —Thuja ocoidentalis—a fluid extract of its leaves, prepared by Parke Davis & Co., has given excellent results in the treatment of malarial diseases, and the saturated tincture may be given for pulmonary hemorrhage, and also applied to cancerous ulcerations, warts, etc. A salve made with the leaves used to be a remedy employed by the Indians for the relief of rheumatism, and a poultice of the leaves made with milk has been highly spoken of for the same purpose. By distillation the leaves yield a yellowish-green volatile oil, which has been used as a vermicide, and the distilled water has been praised as a remedy for dropsy.
Thus far Thuja appears to have been employed empirically only, but it would seem, on reviewing the affections in which it has been of service, that its action may become very useful to the practitioner in the treatment of malignant diseases, especially in diminishing tendencies to bleeding, relieving the violence of pain, and causing contraction of unstripped muscular fibres.