Commercial Timbers

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H. G. Richter and M. J. Dallwitz

Cedrela odorata L., C. fissilis Vell. (Cedro)

Nomenclature etc. MELIACEAE. C. odorata L. - Syn.: C. mexicana H. J. Roem., C. glaziovii DC., C. guianensis A. Juss.; C. fissilis Vellozo - Syn.: C. balansae DC., C. brasiliensis A. Juss. Trade and local names: cedro (DE, cAm, sAm, BR), Central American cedar, Honuras cedar, Nicaragua cedar, Tabasco cedar (US, GB), cedar (JM), aluk (CR), calicedro (MX), yalam (NI), cedro amargo (VE), cédrat (GF), red cedar (AN), cédre rouge (FR), cedrela, cedro colorado, cedro real, cedro salteño (AR). Listed in CITES Annex III (Peru, 2001).

Tree. Geographic distribution: Mexico and Central America, Caribbean, and tropical South America.

General. Growth ring boundaries distinct. Heartwood basically red to brown (light coloured when fresh, darkening considerably upon exposure). Sapwood colour distinct from heartwood colour. Odour distinct (aromatic). Density 0.43–0.46–0.51 g/cm³.

Vessels. Wood ring-porous or semi-ring-porous. Ring of earlywood vessels uniseriate. Vessels arranged in no specific pattern, in multiples, commonly short (2–3 vessels) radial rows. Average tangential vessel diameter 75–240–345 µm (105–185–270 fide Wagenführ). Average number of vessels/mm² 3–8. Average vessel element length 200–660 µm. Perforation plates simple. Intervessel pits alternate, average diameter (vertical) 7–10 µm. Vessel-ray pits with distinct borders, similar to intervessel pits. Helical thickenings absent. Other deposits in heartwood vessels present (dark reddish brown).

Tracheids and fibres. Fibres very thin-walled. Average fibre length 770–1050–1750 µm. Fibre pits mainly restricted to radial walls, simple to minutely bordered. Fibres non-septate.

Axial parenchyma. Axial parenchyma banded and not banded. Axial parenchyma bands marginal (or seemingly marginal), coarse, more than three cells wide. Axial parenchyma apotracheal and paratracheal. Apotracheal axial parenchyma diffuse and diffuse-in-aggregates. Paratracheal axial parenchyma vasicentric, or aliform (rarely aliform). Axial parenchyma as strands. Average number of cells per axial parenchyma strand (2–)4–8(–12).

Rays. Rays 4–7 per tangential mm, multiseriate (also if only few), 1–3(–4) cells wide. Height of large rays up to 500 µm. Rays composed of a single cell type (homocellular), or two or more cell types (heterocellular) (mostly weakly heterogeneous); homocellular ray cells procumbent. Heterocellular rays with square and upright cells restricted to marginal rows, mostly 1 marginal row of upright or square cells.

Storied structures. Storied structure absent.

Secretory structures. Oil and mucilage cells absent. Intercellular canals absent.

Mineral inclusions. Crystals present, prismatic, located in ray cells and axial parenchyma cells. Crystal-containing ray cells upright and/or square and procumbent. Crystal-containing axial parenchyma cells chambered and not chambered. Number of crystals per cell or chamber one. Crystal containing cells of normal size. Cystoliths absent. Silica not observed.

Physical and chemical tests. Heartwood not fluorescent. Water extract not fluorescent; basically colourless to brown or shade of brown. Heartwood extractives not leachable by water. Ethanol extract fluorescent. Colour of ethanol extract colourless to brown or shade of brown. Fluorescence of ethanol extract pale orange. Chrome azurol-S test negative. Froth test negative. Splinter burns to charcoal.

Illustrations. • Tree. Cedrela odorata. • Macro images. Cedrela odorata. Transverse. Tangential. • Transverse section. Cedrela odorata. • Tangential section. Cedrela odorata. • Radial section. Cedrela odorata. Inserts: Prismatic crystals in axial parechnyma (above) and in marginal ray cells (below). • Axial parenchyma. Cedrela fissilis. Abundant apotracheal diffuse parenchyma strands (larger, thin-walled cells of irregular outline - left), often in contact with rays (right).


The interactive key allows access to the character list, illustrations, full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting specified attributes, summaries of attributes within groups of taxa, and geographical distribution.

Cite this publication as: ‘Richter, H.G., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2000 onwards. Commercial timbers: descriptions, illustrations, identification, and information retrieval. In English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Version: 25th June 2009. http://delta-intkey.com’.

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