|Colonial Living product FAQ
Please use this FAQ as a general guide.
If you need assistance, information or a customised product to suit your specific requirements, contact us for superior service, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Does Colonial Living use only Australian red cedar?
Unfortunately, exploitation of this tree almost eliminated one of the great forest trees of Australia and is today banned from being logged in State forests. We use Asian cedar instead.
Once found from Sydney to North Queensland, Australian cedar is now a rare timber. A good tree can be seen growing in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Australian red cedar, once flourishing in the Australian rainforests, was reported to reach a height of about 60m and a trunk diameter of 3m, although trees of this size would be exceptional.
It is a beautiful cabinet timber that early settlers fell in love with. A handsome dark red although some specimens are pink or even yellowish and darkens with age. Its growth rings are very prominent on back sawn boards. Not to mention its very distinctive pleasant smell.
What are the advantages of using cedar for furniture?
Is Colonial Living the only company in Australia specialised in authentic
recreations of furniture inspired by the Australian Colonial era?
7. Tell me more about
the Colonial Living collection.
me more about Australian red cedar - Formerly classified as Toona Australis
This tree was once the pride of the coastal rainforests of eastern Australia, from the Shoalhaven River (south of Sydney) to Cape York. Also extending to Papua New Guinea, south-east Asia and as far as India.
Apart from the physical beauty and ease of working of the timber from this tree, the early settlers, with only axes at their disposal, would presumably have preferred to cut down a tree that was huge, soft, relatively easily transportable to market by bullock team than, say, a huge, hard to cut, heavy Rosewood tree. Exploitation of this tree unfortunately almost eliminated one of the great forest trees of Australia and is today banned from being logged in State forests. What the early timber-getters did achieve, though, was to open up the country for further settlement far quicker than the search for any other material, including gold.
Red Cedar needs a relatively dark environment in which to grow up in, such as its natural environment in a rainforest. When too much light falls on the tree, it is attacked by the "Red Cedar Tip Moth" which burrows its way along small branches eventually killing the branch. The vertical growth of the tree is then hindered as it grows new branches which in turn are attacked. The moth attacks Red Cedar trees in the rainforests too, but by the time it has broken through the rainforest canopy, it is a huge, mature tree and it can withstand the moth's attack. For this and other reasons it is almost impossible to grow it as a plantation tree, which is a pity, because the timber is worth a small fortune these days.
9. Is Australian red cedar a true cedar?
No it's not. The true cedars belong to the small genus Cedrus of the family Pinaceae (There are three 'true cedars', cedar of Lebanon, Cerus libani; Himalayan or Indian cedar, C. deodara; Atlantic or Atlas cedar, C. Atlantica. All from the pine family.)
Cedar is native to the Old World from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas (mountainous semi-desert regions), although several are cultivated elsewhere as ornamentals, especially the cedar of Lebanon ( C. libani ), which appears in the Lebanese flag. This tree, native to Asia Minor and North Africa, is famous for the historic groves of the Lebanon Mts., frequently mentioned in the Bible. The wood used in building the Temple and the house of Solomon (1 Kings 5, 6, and 7) may, however, have been that of the deodar cedar ( C. deodara ), native to the Himalayas. It has fragrant wood, durable and fine grained, and is venerated by the Hindus, who call it Tree of God.
The species has also been successfully introduced into some parts of Europe and North America.
All these true cedars yield wide boards, generally straight-grained and selectively knot free.
Is it possible to tell whether an early piece of red cedar furniture is
made from Australian red cedar (Toona Australis) or red cedar from another
Under the microscope there is no difference between NSW and India cedar according to Dr. Jenny Edmonds, Kew Botanic Gardens, UK. She found it impossible to distinguish botanical specimens of red cedar from Australia from those in other parts of its range.
In 1995, Dr. Edmonds completed the classification of Australian red cedar through Taxonomy of the genus Toona. Five species of Toona were recognised. Toona Citiata (of which our Toona Australis is included), Toona Sinensis, Toona Fargesii, Toona Surenii and possibly Toona Calantas which may be a large fruited variant of Toona Ciliata.
Toona Ciliata occurs in Australia, PNG South East Asia (peninsula Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh), South China, the Philippines, Indonesia, the India subcontinent (India and Pakistan).
This does not mean that a timber merchant couldn't recognise cedar grown under different conditions in different areas.
If you have any further questions beyond this FAQ, please go to our Contact Us page.
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