Cedar, Central/South American


Cedar, Central/South American


Density in kg/m3

The Tree
A large tree attaining a height of 27.0m to 40.0m and a diameter of 0.6m to 1.25m or more. Clear boles of 15.0m to 24.0m are common above the buttresses which extend up the tree for 1.5m to 3.5m.

The Timber
The heartwood is pinkish to reddish-brown when freshly cut, becoming red or dark reddish-brown, occasionally with a purplish tinge, after exposure. The sapwood is whitish-grey or pinkish in colour. Generally speaking, cedar resembles the lighter grades of Honduras mahogany, but colour depends largely on the age and growth conditions of the tree; the darker-coloured wood is usually produced by trees grown on the drier sites, while that from young trees, especially those of very rapid growth in the open, is less fragrant, lighter in colour, softer, but somewhat tougher than that of older trees or more slowly grown forest trees. The texture is usually medium, although the darker-coloured woods may have a coarser texture than the lighter woods. The grain is usually straight, but occasionally is interlocked. It weighs about 480 kg/m3 when dried, as an average, but the weight is governed by growth conditions. Most wood has a characteristic odour similar to that of coniferous cedar. It is semi-ring porous or ring porous, and therefore has a visible growth pattern on tangential surfaces. Some wood shows gum streaks. In some areas, especially in Guyana, two distinct types of wood are recognised; (1) The darker variety, more straight grained, with a coarser texture and more volatile oil. This type of wood usually comes from trees grown on the drier sites. (2) The lighter coloured variety, not so straight grained, with a finer texture and less volatile oil.

Generally an easy wood to dry, either in the open air or in a kiln. It dries at a rapid rate with only very minor warping, and only slight checking and end splitting. Under some conditions knots tend to split badly. There is a tendency for individual pieces to distort or collapse during kiln drying, but this may be controlled by using a low temperature schedule.

Central American cedar is roughly comparable to Honduras mahogany in all strength properties except hardness, resistance to shear and compression and tension across the grain, in which it is a little inferior to mahogany.

Working Qualities
Good - Easy to work with both hand and machine tools, with very little dulling of cutting edges. It planes to a clean surface and normally finishes smoothly, but all knives and saws must be kept sharp to avoid the slight tendency to woolliness. The presence of gum in some logs gives a little trouble in planing and polishing, but, in general, the wood stains and polishes well after suitable filling. It takes nails and screws well, and can be glued satisfactorily. It can be peeled cold for veneer and plywood.

Latin Name
Cedrela spp, Cedrela fissilis, Cedrela mexicana, Cedrela guianensis, Cedrela odorata

Also known as
Cedro batata, cedro rosa, cedro vermelho (Brazil), cedro

Wood Type

Extremely difficult



Brazil, Guyana, Honduras, Venezuela, Argentina