This rare and exceptionally beautiful wood species occurs only on the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska south to Oregon. It is one of the slowest growing tree species in North America; 50 to 60 annual growth rings per inch are not uncommon, with some living specimens believed to be around 1200 years old.
Yellow cedar is a bright timber, ranging in colour from soft yellow to light brown. Sapwood occurs as a very narrow band and is almost white to yellowish white. Heartwood is a bright clear yellow, darkening upon exposure. The grain is typically very straight with a fine and even texture. The timber is quite light, being only slightly heavier than western red cedar. It is also highly aromatic, due to the presence of naturally occurring oils.
Prized by boat builders, yellow cedar has exceptional natural durability - resistance to weather, insects and contact with soil - as well as dimensional stability and ease of tooling. The timber stands up to constant wear and load impacts without forming ridges or splitting. Yellow cedar resists splintering and wears smoothly over time. The timber is easily worked by hand or machine, turns and carves well, and finishes beautifully. It readily accepts standard fittings and fastenings, though resinous glues are recommended for bonding.
Common applications of yellow cedar include flooring, decking, paneling, exposed ceilings, roofing shingles, custom woodworking, carving and millwork. The timber has been used since ancient times for boat building, and racing boat enthusiasts often use it for high-performance shells. The timber's resistance to splintering makes it a popular choice for stadium seating, sauna and indoor pool areas, and outdoor furniture.