Latin for 'tree of life'.
Arborvitae is the common name for trees and shrubs of the genus Thuja. This is a branch of the cypress family, and as such are members of the conifers. Some species of this family are known under the common names redcedars or whitecedars, although they are not related to the genus cedar. They have soft needles, arrayed in flattened splays, and small cones, the largest of which are only a few centimeters long. Because arborvitae are large and bushy, often with branches right down to the ground, they are often used in landscaping, either as ornamental trees or hedges. They are native to North America and eastern Asia, although unless you live in the hinterlands of Canada, most of the trees you see will have been emplaced by humans.