To learn more, please visit the responsible forest management section for this region.

Contents:

  1. History of Cultivation
  2. Physico-Mechanical Properties
  3. Key Qualities
  4. Physical Properties
  5. Siberian Cedar Products
  6. Effects of Climate
  7. Larches: compared

History of Cultivation

Siberian Cedar is arguably one of Russia’s most favourite trees; it is even used as a symbol of Krasnoyarsky Kray. It covers a vast area of Siberia, however it also grows in the North-West China, Mongolia and in the ancient mountains of Altaj (Altay). It is so abundant in fact, that it is far from to be considered an endangered species, however in some areas like Altay (Altaj) mountains in Russia, this species has nearly become endangered and now the local government there has commenced programs to address this issue.

Siberian Cedar 1

Interestingly, many tribes inhabiting Siberia, Mongolia, current Komi Republic and China regarded it as a tree planted by gods, and it was believed to have energetic properties that always drew attention of people to it. Its wood is soft, light and flexible, and in Russia people laid the huts floors, made boats, sleds, sled, and used the roots for weaving. In the past, people stored milk in cedar bowls. People claimed that milk did not turn sour and tasted more pleasant. The first recorded written descriptions of the Siberian Cedar started appearing in 1585.

However, the main interest to the Siberian Cedar started to grow in direct proportion to the provenance, and hence consumption of pine seeds, until then, these forests only presented interest to the botanical researchers

In the late 19th century, when the construction of the Trans-Siberian railway commenced, estimations at the time pointed out that one seventh (1/7) of total cargo would be pine nuts, and in the period 1899-1908, 189-200 thousand tonnes of nuts were transported annually. As construction of Siberian railway progressed this led to an influx of population, creation of new cities and their rapid urbanization, which as a result revitalized the economy of this, at that time, still very remote region, to develop rapidly. As cities flourished and railways construction around and across Russian Empire increased steadily and at a great speed, so did the demand for wood, this in turn resulted in the development of forestry of Russian empire all the way up until the Revolution of 1917.

It was only after the Soviet Union was created and established its governmental apparatus that the attention to the Siberian taiga (boreal forests) was again paid attention to. Orders came for organization of collections and processing of Cedar and Pine forests. Unfortunately, given the Stalin’s 5-year plans policy to speed up the industrialization of the USSR, little attention in the following decades was paid to sustainable harvesting of timber. It was only after the Second World War, a new stage in the study of pine forests commenced alongside with improvement of forest management. This has greatly contributed to the establishment of forestry as an independent national economic sector in the Soviet Union.

Until now, the Siberian Cedar remained Russia’s best kept timber secret, below we bring to your attention for the first time the qualities of Siberian Cedar.

 

Physico-Mechanical Properties

Siberian Cedar 2

Average Dried Weight:  425- 445 kg/m3
Specific Gravity (12% MC):  0.37, 0.47
Janka Hardness*:  590 bf (2,637 N)
Modulus of Rupture:  90.5 Mpa
Elastic Modulus:  9.09 Gpa
Crushing Strength:  42.0 Mpa

 * = the Janka test is used to measure hardness.

Siberian Cedar - shrinkage variations:

Cedar wood is soft and is easily machined and processed. The mechanical properties presented in the table are the ones of the Siberian Cedar growing in Eastern Central Siberia, Krasnoyarsk region, the region from which our company sources the timber of this magnificent tree.

Siberian Cedar 3

Key Qualities

  • Resistance to Decay: Siberian Cedar is graded just as high as the Siberian Larch, and is classified as very resistant.
  • Longetivity: Anything made out of Siberian Cedar has a longevity of service.
  • Strong and pleasant odour: high natural moquito repellent properties.

Physical Properties

The transition between sapwood and heartwood of larch is clear-marked, pale sapwood is clearly demarcated from golden brown heartwood. ----------------------

 

Sapwood colour: Pale to white yellow
Heartwood colour:     
Pale yellow to Pink-Red
Grain: Mostly straight
Texture: Medium-fine, some resin canals
Knottiness Very few but large
Odour: Pleasant Cedar odour

 

Siberian Larch 5Siberian Larch 4

 

Siberian Larch Products

There are three main types of products made from larch we supply:

Siberian larch beams and planks (fresh cut) - Siberian larch decks and cladding - Siberian larch hand made houses and saunas

 siberian larch beams and plankssiberian larch decks and claddingsiberian larch houses and saunas

 

Siberian Larch 6

Effects of Climate

 

Climate has a direct and significant effect on the quality of timber. There are many factors that impact the resulting quality of timber, these include: geography – flatlands versus mountainous regions, temperature, height above the sea level, the amount of precipitation, the type of soil, the amount of sunlight and whether the forest is mixed or uniform to one species.

South versus North (Eurasia): it is commonly acknowledged that the same species growing in the South will have worse physico-mechanical properties than the same species from Northern regions. This occurs due to the fact that harsher climates have lower temperatures that stun growth, however these demanding conditions demand the species growing/surviving in the Northern hemisphere to adapt in the way that dictates their cell-structure to be more robust and better joined together. As a result these tend to have better physico-mechanical properties.

West versus East (Eurasia): studies have shown that in the Eurasian continent, some species’ physico-mechanical properties tend to worsen the further East they grow, such as spruce and fir. However the opposite is true for other species, across the Siberia that is the case for both the Siberian Larch (Larix Sibirica) and the Siberian Cedar (Pinus Sibirica). More studies have been performed by researches from Sweden:

Scientific Evidence: The work by Michael Pockrandt from HNE Eberswalde has some conclusive and highly descriptive statistics with regard to the statement above. Apart from comparing the Siberian Larch from Siberia to the one grown in Sweden, the analysis also includes information about the Scots Pine (Pine Sylvestris) and European Larch (Larix Decidua). Except from the Siberian Larch grown in Siberia, the test was performed on the Siberian Larch Trees planted in Sweden in two different locations: Ultuna and Simlângdalen. The test has been performed over the course of twelve years, with the purpose of configuring the following parameters: whether moisture absorption, level of decay and whether density and year ring characteristics have any correlation with the level of decay.

Siberian Larch 7

The locations for plantation were chosen specifically to have different soil type: clay and sandy soil, different amount of precipitation: 530 versus 1050 mm, with different acidity levels: pH 7-8 for Ultuna and pH <5 for Simlângdalen.

Siberian Larch 8

From the table above it is clear, that the Siberian Larch from Siberia time wise is 33% more decay-resistant than the same Siberian Larch planted in Sweden. In addition, it is 66.6% more decay-resistant than its European brother – Larix Decidua.

This is indeed conclusive and scientifically based evidence that harsher climates imply better physico-mechanical properties of trees native to those locales. One way of thinking about this is that in more demanding conditions, only the fittest survive, and the weakest do not, the so-called natural selection process.

Larches: compared

Currently there are three types of larches commercially available in the Netherlands. We are confident our Larch is the best in its category, and we would like to share this confidence with you.

Below you may find the information about the European and Japanese Larches.

  Japanese Larch
European Larch
Sapwood colour: White, pale yellow
White, pale yellow
Heartwood colour:     
Yellow to medium red-brown
Reddish-brown
Grain: Generally straigth, but spirals exist
Straight
Texture: Medium-fine, oily feel and many resins    
Medium-fine, oily feel
Knottiness Many and small
A lot but very small
Odour: Distinctive resinous
Distinctive resinous

 

Japanese Larch Japanese Larch

European Larch
European Larch

 Physico-Mechanical Properties Compared:

Siberian Larch 9