Taxonomic name: Cedrela odorata L.
Common names: Barbados cedar (English), cèdre acajou (French), cèdre des barbares (French), cedro (Portuguese-Brazil), cedro cubano (Spanish-Galapagos Is.), cigar box cedar (English), Mexican cedar (English), sita hina (Tonga), Spanish cedar (English), West Indian cedar (English)
Organism type: tree, shrub
Cedrela odorata is a native of the West Indies and from Central America to South America, including the Brazilian Atlantic and Amazon Rain Forest. It has been introduced to many Pacific Islands and South Africa. This fast growing timber tree has become invasive in some areas, especially those disturbed by cutting.
Cedrela odorata is a "tree up to 40m high with a diameter larger than 2m; leaves up to 80cm long, with (5-) 6-7 (-14) pairs of leaflets with a heavy odor of onions or garlic; leaflets ovate to lanceolate, acute to rounded at base, acute, acuminate or obtuse at tip, 8-20cm long, 2.5-5.5 (-8)cm broad, generally glabrous; flowers in clusters at the extremes of the branches, with a heavy malty odour, 6-9mm long; petals greenish-cream in bud, opeining white; fruit 2.5-4.5cm lolng, septicidally 5-valved; seeds flat, chestnut-brown, about 25mm long and 6-7mm broad." (Adams, 1972, in PIER, 2003; CATIE, 1997)
agricultural areas, ruderal/disturbed
Roadsides, pastures and disturbed areas to 1025m - 1220m (3360ft-4000ft) elevation in Jamaica (Adams, 1972, in PIER, 2003). In the moist uplands of the Galapagos Is. C. odorata is always found naturally on well-drained soils, often but not exclusively on limestone. It tolerates a long dry season but does not flourish in areas of rainfall greater than about 3000mm (120 in) or on sites with heavy or waterlogged soils (Cintron, 1990).
Widely planted as a timber species for the fabrication of furniture, doors and windows, (PIER, 2003; CATIE, 1997); the bark is used for medicinal purposes (CATIE, 1997).
Introduced as a possible timber tree to Yap and possibly other islands in Micronesia. Introduced as a timber tree to Tonga - should be monitored for possible spread (PIER, 2003). An invasive species in South Africa. Also listed on the in IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as it is threatened in parts of the Americas due to over exploitation.
Native range: West Indies south to the Amazon region.
Known introduced range: American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Galapagos Islands, Hawai‘i, New Caledonia, Tonga, 'Eua. South Africa.
Introduction pathways to new locations
Forestry: Introduced as a timber tree to a number of Pacific Islands (PIER, 2003).
Local dispersal methods
On animals (local): Seeds are wind dispersed (Cintron, 1990).
Chemical: In the Galapogos hack and squirt application of 50% Tordon 22K has been found successful (Gardener, 2002).
The large and much-branched inflorescences bear numerous small, five-part, symmetrical greenish-white flowers. Trees are monoecious; male and female flowers are borne on the same inflorescence but the species is proterogynous (female flowers open first). Fruit development takes about 9 or 10 months and fruits ripen during the next dry season. The fruit, a large woody capsule, is borne near branch tips. Fruits ripen, split, and shed seeds while still attached to the parent tree (Cintron, 1990).
Fruits open from the top downward to release 40 to 50 winged seeds when ripe. Seed weight is about 8 to 10 percent of dry fruit weight. One kilogram (2.2 lb) contains 20,000 to 50,000 seeds (9,100 to 22,700/lb, approximately). Seeds are 20 to 25mm (0.75 to 1.0 in) long, wing included, and are wind dispersed. Vigorous germination is the rule, with seed viability reportedly up to 90 percent (Cintron, 1990).
Germination is rapid, usually completed within 2 to 4 weeks. Trees begin to fruit at an age of 10 to 12 years. In natural forest, high seedling densities are common near fruiting trees shortly after the beginning of the rainy season, but most of these seedlings disappear by the middle of the rains or a little later; this high natural mortality may be due to shade or competition but is thought to be partly due to damping off or other root problems (Cintron, 1990).
Reviewed by: Dr. Andreas Ebert. Coordinator, Plant Genetic Resources and Biotechnology, Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza, CATIE Costa Rica.
Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG)
Last Modified: Thursday, 23 March 2006