Species Data

Class: Magnoliopsida

Order: Sapindales

Family: Meliaceae

Scientific Name: Cedrela odorata

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

IUCN Species Range Map



A commercially important plant, Spanish Cedar (also known as Cuban Cedar or Cedro) is a mid-sized tree that grows up to 30 meters. Its wood was traditionally the most common choice for classical Spanish guitars. It is not a cedar, but produces a pungent sap that is reminiscent of cedar sap. Over-harvesting and deforestation have reduced the population by around 30% in the last 100 years.

Main Image: Cedrela ordorata © Dick Culbert (License: CC 2.0)


Climate and Range

Spanish Cedar can be found throughout northern South America from North Mexico to Paraguay and many of the islands of the Caribbean. As a monoecious species with wind dispersing seeds, they are able to spread relatively easily and is a fast-growing pioneer species. It is pollinated by a range of insects. However, populations are now highly fragmented with little to no forest between them.

Cedrela ordorata © Dick Culbert (License: CC 2.0)

Threats and Conservation

The wood of Spanish Cedar is much sought after and has resulted in over-exploitation of the species. The logged wood tends to be used in making furniture. In Guatemala, the bark is used as a medication to ward off fevers and may have some anti-malarial properties. As a shade-growing species, Spanish Cedar are an ideal plant for reforestation efforts in Amazonia and a large number have been planted. There are large collections of this species across the world and a large effort has been made in many local areas to protect these trees which are now listed in CITES Appendix III.


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