Cedar wood is a form of wood that comes from different types of trees known as “cedars” that are cultivated in different regions of the world and also have different uses and purposes. Cedar trees are coniferous trees which mean that they have needle-like leaves (ranging from vibrant green to intense blue-green), often related to an evergreen fir tree. These Christmas-like trees can grow up to 100 feet in height, and at times higher. Their brown seed cones need almost a year to reach maturity, and by the time they mature, they split up and disperse their seeds in the air.
Cedar wood is famed for its scent, but the wood has other properties that are at least as useful as its aromatic properties. These specific characteristics have led cedar to be used in crafting everything from roof shingles to guitars.
After understanding what we mean by cedar wood, let’s take a look at the different types of cedar wood.
- Western Red Cedar – commonly used in Canada- Thuja Plicata, also known as Western Red Cedar, or Pacific Red Cedar, is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae, native to western North America. It’s not a true cedar of the genus Cedrus. They are pyramidal in form and maybe upto 60 meters tall and 200 meters in circumference. It is a very popular ornamental and hedge tree in North America and Canada. The wood is used for shingles, posts, pilings, boat making, greenhouse fittings, and other purposes for which resistance to moisture and decay is more important than strength. The appealing dark color, lightweight and soft texture of the Western Red Cedar make it suitable for various interior applications as well. The flexibility and versatility of the Western Red Cedar decking in Canada enable its usage in roof shingles, exterior siding, exterior cladding, decking, greenhouses, and saunas.
- Eastern White Cedar- Northern white-cedar (also called Thuja occidentalis L.) is a vital tree species in the northeastern United States and adjacent Canada, occurring both in pure stands and as a minor species in mixed stands of hardwoods or softwoods. Yet practitioners have little and often contradictory information about cedar ecology and silviculture. In response to this information need, a group of university and government researchers in the United States and Canada embarked on more than a decade of collaborative research; this guide is a compilation of the knowledge generated by that effort. With generally slow growth and little to no ingrowth on most inventory plots in the region, silvicultural prescriptions that explicitly address cedar are warranted. Recommendations include retaining and releasing cedar in managed stands, as well as establishing and protecting advance cedar regeneration and residual trees during harvesting. A partial cutting (the irregular shelterwood method) is suggested for regenerating stands with a component of cedar, though browsing by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmermann) may influence treatment outcomes and must be considered.
- Atlantic Cedar- Cedrus atlantica, also called the Atlas Cedar, is a cedar native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco (Middle Atlas, High Atlas), to the Rif, and to the Tell Atlas in Algeria. A majority of the modern sources treat it as a distinct species of Cedrus Atlantica family, but some sources consider it as a subspecies of Lebanon cedar. One of the effective uses of Atlantic Cedar decking in Canada is it improves hair growth. Applying lavender oil in combination with the essential oils from rosemary, thyme and Atlantic Cedar to the scalp improves hair growth in up to 44% of people with hair loss after seven months of treatment.
- Incense Cedar- Calocedrus decurrens, also known as incense cedar is a species of conifer native to western North America, with the bulk of the range in the United States. The cedar wood grows at altitudes of 50 to 2,900 meters (160–9,510 ft). The most widely known species in the genus, it is often simply called ‘incense cedar’ without the regional qualifier.
- Eastern Red Cedar- Commonly found in the wilderness of Eastern part of the United States, they are also known as Juniperus Virginiana. When the leaves of this wood are crushed they impart a pleasant smell. The wood from Eastern Red Cedar is used to make windbreakers or hedges. Because of the dense, compact, long-lived foliage and low branches, Eastern redcedar makes excellent windbreaks and living snow fences. It serves well as the evergreen component of a multiple-row windbreak and, because of its density, is effective as a single row windbreak. Because of the durability of the heartwood, Eastern red cedar makes for excellent posts. The dark red heartwood and white sapwood are very desirable for novelty items and chests. Different varieties of Eastern Red Cedar include Blue Point Juniper, Canaerti, Burkii Juniper, Keteleeri, Hetzii Columnaris, and the Princeton Sentry.
- Port Orford Cedar- Chamaecyparis lawsoniana is also called as Port Orford cedar or Lawson cypress. It is a species of wood of conifer in the genus Chamaecyparis, family Cupressaceae. It is a native to the Oregon and northwestern California and grows from sea level up to 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) in the valleys of the Klamath Mountains, often along the streams. It is sometimes used for making arrow shafts, and the grain is “straight as an arrow”, with a uniform medium to a fine texture. It is very durable to very durable regarding decay resistance, and also resistant to most insect attacks. It is also reported to have good resistance to acid corrosion. Port Oxford Cedar has a pungent, ginger-like scent. It was used for storage battery separators during and prior to World War II.
- Southern Red Cedar- A fact that may surprise you is that Southern Red Cedar is not a Cedar decking in Canada. In reality, it is a part of the hardy juniper family. Sometimes, referred to as the Coast Juniper, Southern Red Cedar is tolerant of salt, wind, and drought. They prefer well-drained, sandy soils and grow well in full to partial sun. Though most Southern Red Cedars are pyramidal in shape and are foliated to the ground, as they age, they can become more open, revealing a textured trunk, flat top, and irregular shape. Some specimens reach 40 feet high, though most grow to be between 25-30 feet tall.
They prefer dry soil and have a high drought tolerance. They have a high salt tolerance. In sandhill topography, they are often the only bright green plant to see in the dead winter. They provide food, cover and nesting sites for birds. The Southern Red Cedar is not a great companion plant and emits a chemical that acts as a herbicide to other plants around it.
With an in-depth analysis of the various cedar woods available, now it will definitely be easy when building your next apartment, swimming deck, or any furniture.