Western Red Cedar (latin: Thuja plicata) has many unique and wonderful properties which make it perfect for Plank Grilling.
Western Red Cedar is a popular as a building material in the USA and Canada because it contains natural substances which resist pests and fungus.
Despite this, hardware stores may sell treated wood. Artificially treated timber is exceptionally dangerous to your health. Never never never try to save money using timber from a hardware store. Be absolutely 100% certain that the timber is completely untreated. You can read more about artificial treatments here.
Western Red Cedar is a popular building material because it contains a natural fungicide called Thujaplicin and it resists pests such as termites.
Despite the name ‘Cedar’, Thuja Plicata is a member of the Cypress family. Actually Western Red Cedar is quite closely related to Northern White Cedar (or Thuja occidentalis) which also has wonderful culinary properties. Other members of the (true) Cedar family are not in general suitable for culinary purposes.
Thuja Plicata can grow very large up to 70 metres tall and 4 metres around the trunk – and is long-lived, the oldest known tree being 1460 years old. When this tree was ‘born’, Hindu mathematicians were inventing the number ‘zero’ and the spice trade was thriving between Asia and Europe through Persia.
Western Red Cedar is not endangered in any way – probably due to its usefulness and wide exploitation – and is found growing naturally in the Pacific Northwest part of America and has also been introduced to other temperate climates such as Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
The word plicata comes from a Greek word meaning “folded in plaits”, a reference to the pattern of the leaves.
Western Red Cedar is also known as Arborvitae or in Latin, the “tree of life” and the native American name translates to “long life maker”.
The Indian people of the Pacific Northwest used Red Cedar to build canoes. Some tribes even referred to themselves as “people of the red cedar” because they relied on the tree for so many things.