Because of the name, it’s easy to see why so many people get confused about what Aromatic Cedar really is. Here’s a hint: it’s not part of the Cedrus genus.
Aromatic Cedar is actually Juniperus Virginiana, however, it’s commonly referred to as Red Cedar. Other names can be just as misleading: Eastern Red Cedar, Virginia Pencil Cedar and Red Juniper. Interestingly enough the two trees don’t look all that much alike. The pleasing aroma is the distinguishing feature that links them together.
How Juniperus Virginiana Compares to True Cedar
So, Aromatic Cedar is actually a Juniper species, which means you have one more wood option to consider. Before heading down to your local lumber provider and deciding which type of “cedar” is best for your project take a look at the comparison points below.
Type of Tree: Juniper Virginiana – Coniferous / Cedar – Coniferous
Native to: Juniper Virginiana – Southeast Canada south to the Gulf Coast region as far west as Texas and the Midwest / Cedar – Mediterranean and Himalayas (It is now grown all over the world including the U.S.)
Height: Juniper Virginiana – 16-66 feet / Cedar – 98-131 feet
Lumber Appearance: Juniper Virginiana – Pink to red brown color, fine grains, knotty / Cedar – Golden color, tight grains, few knots
Aromatic: Juniper Virginiana – Yes / Cedar – Yes
Price: Juniper Virginiana – Modest / Cedar – Moderate to High (depending on type)
Not surprisingly, Aromatic Cedar is used in many of the same applications as the real deal because both can ward off moths and repel other bugs. They are commonly used as:
- Closet shelves
- Fence posts
Aromatic Cedar is easy to work with, lightweight and has a good hardness of 900 on the Janka scale. Typically this wood is sold in smaller, milled quantities at traditional big box lumberyards. However, because the wood tends to be knotty and have a narrow diameter it isn’t normally used for decking.
The various varieties of Cedar are just as workable, however they aren’t quite as hard which is a plus for your saw blades. Both types of wood are also known for their rot resistance. Northern White Cedar in particular has an exceptional decay resistance and has even been known to protect against termites. Cedar is a popular choice for decking materials and outdoor structures because of its appearance, dimensional stability, durability, longevity, insect and rot resistance.
So, if you have a small project where insect and rot resistance is needed and the smell is one of the biggest draws Juniper Virginiana is an excellent choice. However, for larger scale projects like a deck that require stability and durability real Cedar is going to be the best option.
Timbertown Austin has a range of Cedar lumber products that are ideal for a variety of outdoor applications. We’re a premier lumber provider in Central Texas that has helped thousands of customers create beautiful structures using Cedar as well as our many other many softwood and hardwood lumber selections.
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