Arborvitae, COD2, the popular name for a genus of cone-bearing, evergreen trees of the pine family. There are only six species in this genus, found in North America and eastern Asia. The word "aborvitae" is from the Latin, meaning "tree of life." (A resin obtained from the twigs was once thought to have medicinal value.)
The wood of the arborvitae is used in building construction and for making cabinets, barrels, casks, shingles, and poles. The American arborvitae, or northern white cedar, has many garden varieties, which range from 10 to 60 feet (3—18 m) in height. A closely related Japanese evergreen is often called arborvitae. It resembles the true arborvitae, but is of a different genus.
Arborvitae make up the genus Thuja; the American arborvitae is T. occidentalis. The Japanese arborvitae is Thujopsis dolobrata. All belong to the pine family, Pinaceae.