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Cedrela odorata - L.

Common Name Cedar Wood, West Indian Cedar, SpanishCedar, Cigar-box Cedar, Cedro Hembra
Family Meliaceae
USDA hardiness 9-12
Known Hazards In research plots in Papua New Guinea, the latter method has been shown to encourage growth; however, it increases the risk of insect attack. Because of the valuable wood, the native trees of this species are now found only in scattered, remote areas in Puerto Rico, chiefly in the moist limestone and lower cordillera forest regions.
Habitats Widely distributed in wet, primary and secondary evergreen to semi-deciduous lowland or lower montane rainforest[ 303 ].
Range Tropical America - Mexico to Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and French Guyana and the Caribbean.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cedrela odorata Cedar Wood, West Indian Cedar, SpanishCedar, Cigar-box Cedar, Cedro Hembra
Cedrela odorata Cedar Wood, West Indian Cedar, SpanishCedar, Cigar-box Cedar, Cedro Hembra


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Cedrela odorata or Cedar Wood is a fast-growing deciduous tree that is highly valued for its high quality timber in Tropical America. It now considered to be endangered as a result of overexploitation. It grows up to 30-40 m in height and has a cylindrical bole of up to 120 cm in diameter that can be unbranched for 15 - 24 m. It has a spreading crown and many low branches making it an ideal shade and windbreak tree. Cedar wood is also used in medicine particularly in the treatment of fever, sores, headaches, earache, and wounds. The bark is used for making twine. The wood is aromatic and naturally termite- and rot-resistant. It is used in making furniture, musical instruments, veneer, doors, and light constructions.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Cedrela odorata is a deciduous Tree growing to 30 m (98ft) by 30 m (98ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is not frost tender. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline and saline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cedrela dugesii Watson Cedrela glaziovii C.DC. Cedrela guianensis A.Juss. Cedrela longipes Blake Ced


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Use: The young leaves are eaten.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The bark is aromatic, astringent and tonic[ 348 ]. A cold water infusion of the stem bark is used to treat fevers[ 348 ]. The root and trunk bark is used to reduce fever and pain[ 303 ]. The bark is used to treat sores[ 348 ]. A decoction of the bark and leaves is used as a wash to treat headaches[ 348 ]. A decoction of the leaves is used as a wash to treat fevers[ 348 ]. The leaves and flowers are antispasmodic[ 348 ]. An infusion is used to treat earache[ 348 ]. The trunk is harvested to prepare a decoction for abortion[ 303 ]. Shavings of the wood are used in sweat baths to treat skin eruptions[ 348 ]. The seeds are believed to have vermifugal properties[ 303 ]. An oil obtained from the seed is used to cicatrize wounds[ 348 ]. The fruit is anthelmintic[ 348 ]. The plant contains leucocyanidin, gedunin, methylangolensati 7-desacetoxy-7-ketogedunin, maxicanolid, camphor oil, triterpenes, meliacine, p-cumaric acid and the essential oil cedrelanol[ 348 ].

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Other Uses

Other uses rating: High (4/5). Large shade tree, Public open space, Street tree, Xerophytic. Agroforestry Uses: A natural pioneer species that is also long-lived and supplies an excellent timber, it is an excellent choice for use in reforestation schemes[ 420 ]. Other Uses The bark has been used for making twine[ 303 ]. The heartwood is pale creamy immediately after sawing, turning pinkish-brown upon exposure; it is clearly demarcated from the 3 - 5cm wide band of sapwood. The grain is usually interlocked, sometimes straight or woolly, indicating the presence of tension wood; texture is moderately fine to moderately coarse; the grain pattern is attractive in flat sown boards; when freshly cut, the wood has a distinct onion-like odour which disappears after 2 - 3 days. The wood is light in weight and comparatively soft, the heartwood is rated as moderately durable and moderately resistant to termites, but the sapwood is susceptible to staining and powder post beetles and is not durable. It is easy to work, saws, bores, turns and sands without problems and produces a good finish; it is easy to glue. However, growth stresses may cause severe end splitting of logs and warping and splitting during saw milling. Tests in Samoa showed that the timber can be rotary peeled without pre-treatment with good results, producing attractively patterned veneer; veneer slicing also gave good results. The wood is difficult to treat with preservatives, even by a pressure treatment. A premier timber for furniture, decorative veneer, musical instruments, wooden novelties and doors. The best known use of cedar timber is for cigar boxes, but it is also used for light construction, mouldings, cabinets, furniture, panelling, boxes, exterior joinery, weather boards, louvred doors, boat building (especially racing boats), canoes, musical instruments, turnery, matchboxes, household implements, face veneer and plywood. Lower grades are suitable for crates, fencing and animal pens. The repellent smell of the wood to insects makes it particularly suitable for the manufacture of clothing chests and wardrobes[ 303 , 848 ]. A good firewood species[ 303 ].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of low to middle elevations of the moister tropics, where it is found from sea level to 1,900 metres[ 303 ]. It succeeds in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 22 - 26°c and the mean annual rainfall is 1,000 - 3,700 mm[ 303 ]. Drought for part of the year does not adversely affect the health of the tree[ 303 ]. Requires a sunny position[ 303 ]. It is not demanding of soil nutrients, tolerating soils high in calcium[ 303 ]. Plants are not tolerant of waterlogging or flooding[ 303 ]. They prefer a very fertile, free draining, weakly acidic soil but tolerate heavy soil[ 303 ]. Cedar wood is a fast-growing and long-lived pioneer species[ 303 ]. The plants commence flowering when about 10 - 15 years old. Flowering is annual, but good seed crops only occur every 1 - 2 years[ 303 ]. The flowers are visited by bees as a source of nectar for honey production[ 303 ]. As the root system is superficial, there is some risk of wind damage and therefore thinning should be executed carefully[ 303 ]. As the trees have many low branches and a spreading crown, they are used for shade and as a windbreak in courtyard gardens and in cocoa and coffee plantations[ 303 ]. The tree does not respond to coppicing[ 303 ]. Cedar wood is highly susceptible to Hypsipyla attack; therefore it is recommended that trees be planted in mixed plantations, for example with Leucaena leucocephala, Cordia spp., or Anthocephalus chinenesis or under the light shade of trees such as Eucalyptus delgupta[ 303 ]. Because of the valuable wood, the native trees of this species have been over-exploited and they are now found only in scattered, remote areas in Puerto Rico, chiefly in the moist limestone and lower cordillera forest regions[ 303 ].

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Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed. A germination rate of 80% or more can be expected, with the seed sprouting within a few days[ 420 ]. Transplanting of naturally regenerated seedlings or establishing branch and stem cuttings are the most common propagation methods. Grafting and budding methods have also been successful. Regeneration may also be done by seed, wildings or air-layering. Fresh seed germinates readily, but when stored under ambient conditions it rapidly looses its viability. They may be broadcast or sown in lines in level nursery beds and lightly covered with soil, sand, sawdust or charcoal. Where there is adequate moisture, shade is not necessary; shade increases the risk of damping-off. Germination takes 2-4 weeks. It is fastest at temperatures 30-35 deg. C, but seed also germinates at 15 deg. C. Seedlings grow very quickly and may attain 40-50 cm height after 3 months and 130-150 cm after 12 months. Collecting wildings in the Philippines had a survival rate of 94% and after some months had a shorter taproot and more lateral roots than the original seedlings growing under the mother tree. Height increment of these wildings was 50 cm during the 1st 6 months after transplanting. In Papua New Guinea, transplanted wildings showed 100% survival under about 60% relative light intensity. Stumps, striplings and container seedlings are used for planting; occasionally wildings may be used. Stumps 20 cm tall, with a diameter of 1-2 cm, planted 10 cm deep showed nearly 100% survival in Indonesia. Direct seeding is feasible, as the young plants develop very quickly; as trees seem to experience a rather severe planting shock, this method is recommended when there is no shortage of seed. Early annual growth may be up to 2.3 m in height and up to 4.8 cm in diameter under favourable conditions and when not attacked by Hypsipyla shoot borers. Dormancy of the shoot may be signalled by the abscission of the whole terminal shoot tip, leaving lateral buds to continue axial growth. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox. Viability is maintained in hermetic storage at cool temperatures with 6-9.5% mc; seeds can be stored for about 2 years if kept in dry, cool (2-4 deg. C) and airtight containers. Well-dried seeds (6-9.5% mc) stored in paper bags, show no decrease in germination after 3 months, irrespective of the temperature during storage, ranging from -30 to 30 deg. C. Germination of seed kept in closed glass bottles at 4-6 deg. C is 82% after 2 months and 78% after 14 months.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Cedrela odorata or Cedar Wood. Other Names: Akuyari, Cede, Ceder, Cedro amargo, Cedro, Sedre, Spanish cedar, West Indian cedar.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Central America, Costa Rica, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, East Africa, El Salvador, Fiji, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guiana, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Lesser Antilles, Martinique, Mexico, Mozambique, North America, Pacific, Panama, Puerto Rico, South America, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Its fast growth has also seen it become an invasive species, especially in the Pacific islands including Hawaii and the Galapagos, and also South Africa.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Status: Vulnerable A1cd+2cd

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Cedrela fissilisCedro, Cigar Box TreeTree25.0 10-12 FLMHSNM024

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Links / References

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A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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