I recently asked the following question on Reddit/r/cigars
“Why is Spanish Cedar used in humidors ?”
This is a fairly important question as the vast majority of humidors sold are manufactured using this exact type of wood, but the question that is sometimes asked is “why?”. The answer for using that specific wood was pretty straightforward and reasonable. Why it is called “Spanish Cedar” however is far more puzzling.
These are some of the responses:
“It holds a lot of moisture without warping and cracking. And it does that without allowing the massive humidity difference between the inside and outside of the humidor. Also, it isn’t aromatic like regular cedar is, it’s actually a type of mahogany. Spanish Cedar is a great wood for humidors but there are sufficient alternatives if you can’t find it or it’s too expensive for your application.”
“It’s a type of Mahogany and it’s not indigenous to Spain, which makes Spanish cedar the perfect name for it”
“natural resistance to rot, deals with humidity well, and smells nice”
Spanish Cedar is not Cedar and it’s not from Spain, it’s a Mahogany that has good humidor friendly aspects about it such as resistance to rot and the fact that it holds humidity well. Also worth noting that tobacco beetles are not fond of that specific wood hence make it the ideal choice for Humidors.
The technical term for Spanish Cedar is actually Cedrela odorata which is a commercially important tree, what we discovered is that though Humidor Construction is of course one of the top uses, it’s also used for beekeeping (the wooden boxes where the bees are stored), some electric guitars and is even the traditional wood for the neck of flamenco and classical guitars.
Cedrela odorata is a mahogany tree of the New World tropics found throughout the tropical zones of North and South America. In other words it does not come from Spain and it’s a mahogany. There is very little information on why this specific tree is called “Spanish Cedar”. So we decided to do some digging, after some time researching via Google, Wikipedia and other sources, we then turned back to Reddit and elaborated on the thread to include why this wood is called Spanish Cedar when it’s not from Spain nor is it a Cedar.
The fact is that no one that we interviewed knows. There is very little information on why the Mahogany is called a Cedar and the North and South American Tree is called Spanish.
If you know why it’s named this, please let us know.