Western Red Cedar, Cedar Wood, California Redwood

Discover a hidden fortune in cultivating clear, wide, long-board cedar wood and learn how growing Western Red Cedar and California Redwood maximizes return on investment.

Western red cedar and red cedar are not the same tree but both names are commonly used to describe the western red cedar tree. There are key differences between Western red cedar and red cedar, which is indigenous to coast California.

  • Species: Western red cedar refers to the species Thuja plicata, which is native to western North America. Red cedar, on the other hand, can refer to a number of different species, including Juniperus virginiana and Cedrus atlantica, depending on the context.
  • Appearance: Western red cedar has a reddish-brown bark and a narrow, conical shape, with feathery branches and scale-like leaves.
  • Uses: Western red cedar is commonly used for outdoor construction, such as siding, shingles, and decking, due to its natural resistance to rot and insects. Depending on the species, red cedar be used for furniture, cabinetry, and landscaping.
  • Properties: Western red cedar is known for its durability, light weight, and insulating properties. Red cedar, depending on the species, can have different physical and mechanical properties, but is generally known for its resistance to decay and its pleasant aroma.

Western Red Cedar - The North Coast Redwood

Western red cedar is native to western North America.

  • Growing zones: Western red cedar is suited to USDA zones 5 to 9, which covers much of the western half of the United States.
  • Natural habitat: Western red cedar is native to the Pacific Northwest. Found growing in a variety of habitats, Western red cedar grows in coastal rainforests, on riverbanks, and early slope mountainsides.
  • Description: Western red cedar is a large, long-lived tree that can grow to heights of 230 feet or more and diameters up to 13 feet. It has a conical or columnar shape, with a straight trunk and feathery branches. Its needles are scale-like and arranged in flat, fan-like sprays.
  • Characteristics: Western red cedar is known for its durability, resistance to rot and insects, and its light weight. It has a pleasant, aromatic scent and a reddish-brown bark that peels in long, thin strips.
  • Soil preference: Western red cedar prefers well-draining, acidic soils that are rich in organic matter. It can tolerate a wide range of soil textures, from sandy to clay soils.
  • Preferred climate and rainfall: Western red cedar prefers a cool, moist climate, with an average annual rainfall of at least 50 inches and as such prefers to grow in coastal rainforests, where it is exposed to high levels of precipitation, fog, mist, and humidity.

Western red cedar is durable, light weight, and attractive. It is referred to as an outdoor wood, and as such is commonly used for a range of outdoor applications, including siding, decking, and shingles.

California Redwood - The South Coast Redwood

Coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is a tall, evergreen tree that is native to the coastal regions of California and southern Oregon.

  • Growing zones: Coastal redwood is suited to USDA zones 7 to 9, which covers much of the coastal areas of California and southern Oregon.
  • Natural habitat: Coastal redwood is native to the foggy coastal regions of California and southern Oregon, where it grows in cool, humid conditions with frequent coastal mist. It is typically found in dense, old-growth forests.
  • Description: Coastal redwood is one of the tallest tree species in the world, growing to heights of 380 feet or more and a diameter of 30 feet. It has a straight, cylindrical, tapered trunk with reddish-brown bark that is deeply furrowed and ridged. Needles are a grayish-green color, flat and arranged in two rows.
  • Characteristics: Coastal redwood is known for its incredible height, durability, and resistance to insects, rot, and fire. It has a straight, knot-free grain that makes it desirable for a range of woodworking and construction applications.
  • Preference for mist from the sea: Coastal redwood has a high tolerance for moisture, and actually depends on frequent coastal mist for survival. Its leaves absorb water from the air, which helps to sustain the tree during dry periods.

Coastal California redwood plays an important role in the ecology and culture of the Pacific Northwest. Redwood is utilized for lumber, decking, and furniture, and is highly prized for its aesthetic and cultural value.

Redwood Is Worth A Fortune In Clear, Wide, Long Board And Plank Lengths If You Can Find It Or Grow It

The red wood from Western Red cedar and California Redwood is worth a small fortune of you can find wide board 24 inches across or greater. For more than 200 years, the virgin coastal forests of western North America provided a seemingly endless supply of Western Red Cedar and California Redwood. Now it’s all but gone, the last commercial tract timberlands cut and harvested over 30 years ago. Only a few of these magnificent trees stand in preserves protected by governments in parks up and down the west coast.

This has created a shortage of wide, long length cedar and redwood, especially wood that is knot-free and clear-grained.

Clear grained cedar is the highest quality grade available, free from growth characteristics (knots) that affect appearance or performance (finishing). It typically sells for $5 per board foot.

Timber investment consortiums earn over $500 a tree in 30 to 40 years growing cedar clear wood. High-density plantings naturally prune branches from the trunk of each tree as it grows in the plantation. Trees spaced farther apart will form wood imperfections from branches left to grow on the trunk. At harvest, 30 feet cedar sawlogs are cut from the trees, which average 12-inches in diameter. Sawlogs are sold as knot-free clear wood, which will fetch top dollar.

Milled Wide Plank Cedar Wood, Sawn Cedar Video

video about milling western red cedar
western red cedar tree identification
bark of a red cedar tree western red cedar wood

Natural Habitat

Timber investment consortiums earn over $500 a tree in 30 to 40 years growing cedar clear wood. High-density plantings naturally prune branches from the trunk of each tree as it grows in the plantation. Trees spaced farther apart will form wood imperfections from branches left to grow on the trunk. At harvest, 30 feet cedar sawlogs are cut from the trees, which average 12-inches in diameter. Sawlogs are sold as knot-free clear wood, which will fetch top dollar.

north american growing zone map for western red cedar

Cedar Wood Plantations

Cedar wood plantations are perfect for wet lowlands that may not be suitable for a conventional farm or animal grazing. These trees will flourish, help control water levels and grow fast from abundant the water supply. A dry land, pure stand cedar plantation that grows in cultured rows is not recommended, however in the case of a wetland, pure stands of western red cedar grow better without the intermingling of other tree species like Douglas fir.

Rather than growing trees in cultured rows, western red cedars are planted in geometric spiraling patterns designed to accelerate tree growth. These planting patterns stretch the cellular structure of each tree, so it grows taller. Growing Yew trees between cedar trees grows a healthier forest and creates a secondary income from the plantation.

Pacific Yew Tree

The Pacific yew tree is native to the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

  • Natural habitat: The Pacific yew tree is found growing in cool, moist forests in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Commercial tree farming: Pacific yew is commonly grown in commercial tree farms, where it is harvested for its bark and needles, which contain a compound called Taxol that is used in cancer treatments.
  • Description: Pacific yew is a small to medium-sized tree that typically grows to 30-50 feet in height. Yew trees have straight trunks, with reddish-brown bark and dark green needles that are flat and pointed.
  • Characteristics: Pacific yew is known for its slow growth, durability, and resistance to decay and insects. It has a fine, even grain that makes it suitable for carving and woodworking.
  • Properties: The bark and needles of Pacific yew contain a compound called Taxol, which has been found to have anti-cancer properties. Taxol is used by pharmaceutical companies in chemotherapy treatments for various types of cancer, including ovarian, breast, and lung cancer.
  • Medicinal value: In addition to its use in cancer treatments, the yew tree has been used in traditional medicine to treat fever, rheumatism, and menstrual cramps.
  • Danger of over-harvesting: Due to the demand for Taxol, Pacific yew has been over-harvested in some areas, leading to concerns about the sustainability of the species in its natural habitat.

Pacific yew is a valuable tree species that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. While commercial harvesting of Pacific yew for Taxol has led to concerns about over-harvesting, efforts are underway to promote sustainable harvesting practices and to develop alternative sources of Taxol.

medicinal pacific yew tree with cancer fighting properties

Red Cedar Wood

Western Red Cedar wood is considered the most valuable of all softwoods because of its fine, straight grain, color, flexibility and strength in proportion to weight, however, the most important property of cedar wood is its high impermeability to liquids and its natural phenol preservatives, which make it ideally suited for exterior use in wetter climates. Cedar wood lasts for years in a West Coast climate, but it wears and ages prematurely in a humid climate, turning grey after just a few years. This water impermeability has made cedar wood an ideal roofing material for homes of the Pacific Northwest for more than two hundred years. Cedar shakes are lightweight, strong, and water resistant, require no wood treatment, look beautiful and can last 30 years or more. These qualities also make Western Red Cedar ideal for cladding and siding, decks, and trim.

Red Cedar Insulating Properties

Western Red Cedar also has natural insulating properties offering approximately one “R” of insulation per inch which explains why native lodges were made from thick old growth cedar logs. The first log cabins of the people who first settled the west coast were also fabricated from these insulating logs.

The following comments were collected from a national wood products discussion forum.

Comment from contributor A:

This wood is my absolute favorite of favorites. Quite simply, it has a richness that speaks to my senses like a fine cognac long aged in French oak barrels, or perhaps your preference is Grand Marnier. My kitchen cabinets are made from Pacific Yew, as are many of our doors here at West Wind Hardwood, and upon returning from time away, I am always struck by how extraordinary this richly colored, unique wood is.

Comment from contributor B:

I Love Western Red Cedar; my all-time fave in softwoods - got a big pile of it stacked. I mainly use it for flutes and frame-drums but also scroll feather designs on the scroll saw and recently started making half-turned cedar log lamps on my lathe as well as other turned pieces, candle sticks and votive/tea-light holders.

Comment from contributor C:

I inherited a farm property in Campbell River, B.C on Vancouver Island. We hadn’t been up there since I was a kid. The house was nice, the property even better but what surprised us most was what was stored in one of the outbuildings; it was caulked full of 30 inch wide, 2-inch-thick cedar timber stacked high to the rafters. Some of the planks where over 40 feet long. We ended up selling the whole lot for a stunning amount of money – in fact we had a bit of a bidding war on our hands as word of this spectacular find spread throughout the town.

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