The dense crown of a western redcedar tree is distinguished by its downsweeping branches that turn upward at the ends — giving the appearance of a giant fern frond.Western redcedar has a fibrous (stringy) reddish-brown bark that is seldom more than seven-eighths of an inch thick. Because the bark is to thin, western redcedars are especially vulnerable to fire. Instead of pine-like needles, the foliage of western redcedar consists of flattened branchlets of dark-green scales, each scale only about one-tenth of an inch long. Western redcedar cones are small as well, ranging from one-quarter to one-half inch in length. Immature cones are greenish-yellow, while mature cones are medium-brown in color.
Western redcedar wood is too soft to be used for structural framing. However, this lightweight, pitch-free wood resists insects and decay-causing fungi, making it ideal for use as shingles, shakes, siding fencing, and decking.