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How Big Do Cedar Trees Get in Diameter?

By Ethan Shaw ; Updated July 21, 2017
True cedars can be quite impressive in diameter.
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A “cedar tree” may refer to the true cedars of the Old World -- like the famous Cedars of Lebanon, frequently referenced in biblical texts -- or to other conifers, especially various members of the cypress family. Some of these trees -- most notably the western red-cedar of the Pacific Northwest, one of those “false” cedars -- can grow to impressive diameters.

True Cedars

All three species of true cedar grow to be relatively stout. The Gymnosperm Database reports that deodar, Atlas and Lebanon cedars all may be close to 11 feet in diameter measured at breast height. These conifers grow in the Himalayas and highlands of the Mediterranean basin and are widely planted as ornamentals the world over.

Western Red-Cedar

Western red-cedars of the Pacific Northwest are some of the most massive of the world's trees.
Red Cedar at Picton castle April 2008 image by David Stirrup from Fotolia.com

The western red-cedar is a true giant, often growing massively larger than any of the true cedars in the lush temperate rain forests of the US and British Columbia it calls home. The biggest known specimens -- on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island -- approach 20 feet across.


The yellow- or Alaska-cedar, which shares its range in the Pacific Northwest with the bigger western red-cedar, may nonetheless exceed 13 feet in diameter as exceptional specimens. The northern white-cedar of eastern North America, commonly termed “American arborvitae” in the horticultural trade, is known to reach over 5 feet in diameter.


About the Author


Ethan Shaw is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written extensively on outdoor recreation, ecology and earth science for outlets such as Backpacker Magazine, the Bureau of Land Management and Atlas Obscura. Shaw holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.