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West Indian Cedar Cedrela odorata
FAST-GROWING HARDWOOD CEDAR
Though not a true cedar (Cedrus species), which would make it a softwood, this species carries the name because of its similarities in look and smell. It is sometimes called cigar-box cedar, as it is used in making humidors. Insects are repelled by the aroma, so the lumber is employed for drawer construction and clothes storage. Otherwise it is very similar to mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) in appearance and texture. It is a fast-growing species, so although it has been overexploited, there is hope for its sustainability.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS
Type Tropical hardwood
Other names Cigar-box cedar, South American cedar, Spanish cedar, species synonym C. mexicana
Alternatives Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla or S. mahogani)
Sources Central and South America, Florida, West Indies
Color Pink to brown through shades of red, with darker latewood lines
Texture Moderate and even
Grain Generally straight, with distinctive thin, dark red latewood lines
Hardness Soft
Weight Medium (30 lb./cu. ft.) (480 kg/cu. m)
Strength Strong for its weight; used for the construction of racing boats.
Seasoning and stability Seasons easily and fast, and once dry moves moderately.
Wastage Low
Range of board widths Good Range of board thicknesses Good Durability Good

SUSTAINABILITY
The price of having few weaknesses is that West Indian cedar has been heavily exploited. It is still readily available, but there are real concerns and it has been listed as vulnerable. It regenerates fairly well, and though plantations have been hindered by attack from shoot-boring insects, certified lumber is available.

AVAILABILITY AND COST
Still widely available at moderate prices.



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Updated: 12/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft