There are at least ten different types of Cedar growing across the globe, the most common among them being Western Red Cedar. While this may be the most frequently sold form, each of the eleven has its own attributes which make cedar a versatile part of the lumber trade.
Alaska Yellow Cedar (Chamaecyparis Nootkatensis)
Yellow Cedar, also known as Nootka Cypress, is primarily located around the North America’s northwestern coasts. This particular species is used in a wide array of crafts from furniture and home accessories to boats and even musical instruments such as guitars. Pale in complexion, Yellow Cedar can also be used for flooring and siding. While its versatility makes it a useful and often prized species of lumber, its rarity also makes it more costly.
Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis Thyoides)
Another somewhat rare species from the North American coastal plains, Atlantic White Cedar is mostly used by shipbuilders and construction crews. Also referred to as Southern White Cedar, this strain comes from trees which are tall in stature though scarce in width. As the name implies, its color is lighter than many forms of wood. Despite growing to as many as one hundred feet in height, this species is not as tall as many other species of conifer. This has some impact on its pricing, though it can be found cheaper than Alaska Yellow Cedar.
Aromatic Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana)
Another species which comes from North America, Aromatic (or Eastern) Red Cedar is relatively tall with a decent shaft diameter, resulting in fair pricing. Those seeking clear grades of lumber will, however, find the search more difficult. Eastern Red contains many knots, but if this is not seen as an issue then it still lends itself to a wide variety of uses. Often used as a specialty lumber, Aromatic Red Cedar can be used in furniture, chests, pencils, and even bows for the archery fanatic.
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani)
This species grows best in high altitudes around the Mediterranean. While once much more common, deforestation in the area has led to efforts in reviving the growth of the species. Trees of this species are very wide in diameter, and have historically been used in construction as well as shipbuilding. While use is not as common today, efforts still continue to increase species population.
Incense Cedar (Calocedrus Decurrens)
Incense Cedar is often used in the aromatic substance to which it is eponymous, though it also provides many other uses. Growing in the western regions of North America (thus its other name, California White Cedar), this species of wood can be used for many purposes in terms of furniture and construction. It is also one of the foremost types of wood associated with pencils. The trees are similar in height to Yellow Cedar, but are over twice as wide which helps to reduce cost.
Northern White Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis)
This is one of the smaller cedar trees available, growing only to a height of about fifty feet; however, since it is common around the northeastern United States, it is still relatively cost-effective in comparison to other smaller types of lumber. Northern White is not known for its attractiveness, and is mostly used in roofing, fencing, pulp, and railways. It can also be used to build canoes. While perhaps not the prettiest of woods, its even grain makes it high in utility.
Port Orford Cedar (Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana)
Port Orford Cedar is one of the tallest cedar trees, growing up to two hundred feet. While this would seem to result in a cost-effective strain, it is an uncommon species in the Pacific Northwest and therefore retains a fairly high price. While Port Orford (also known as Lawson’s Cypress) grows in North America, it is used primarily in Japan where it aids the construction of temples and shrines, as well as common households. It is perhaps as versatile as Yellow Cedar, also being used in children’s toys, guitars and mandolins, boats, arrows, and innumerable other items both novelty and sundry.
Southern Red Cedar (Juniperus Silicicola)
Yet another species which is housed by the United States, Southern Red is similar in size to Northern White. This species tends to grow near shallow water, giving it the additional common names of Sand Cedar and Coast Juniper. While its wood is a quite attractive and dark shade of red, Southern Red is not often used for lumber. This species is more preferred for its foliage, and is therefore more often used in landscaping and studied by botanists.
Spanish Cedar (Cedrela Odorata)
Spanish Cedar is grown primarily throughout the Caribbean and South America, and is common enough to keep its prices somewhat regulated so long as its importation is cost-effective as well. Like many cedars, Spanish Cedar is used frequently in the construction of ships, and is often used for plywood and veneers as well. It is a pinkish shade of red that becomes darker over time, and it can often be found in a relatively clear grade.
Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata)
This form of cedar can be found in clear grades more easily than Eastern or Southern Red, partly because it belongs to a different genus. Most common in the western states as well as British Columbia, Western Red is an evergreen species which was once used prolifically in the masks and totem poles of indigenous tribes. It was also used in housing and canoes, uses which it still retains to this day. As the predominant cedar species in the lumber market, Western Red also retains several other common uses such as fencing, siding, and furniture.