Cedars and hickories are both types of trees, but they are actually quite different from each other.
Cedars belong to the genus Cedrus while hickories belong to the genus Carya.
Although they share some superficial similarities, cedars and hickories belong to different plant families, have distinct physical characteristics, and grow in different regions.
- Cedars and hickories are different types of trees that belong to different plant families - cedars are conifers in the pine family Pinaceae while hickories are broadleaf deciduous trees in the walnut family Juglandaceae.
- Cedars have scale-like leaves and hickories have pinnately compound leaves. Cedars produce pine cones and hickories produce nut fruits.
- Cedars thrive in cool mountainous regions while hickories prefer temperate lowland climates with hot humid summers.
- Cedar wood has a spicy aroma and is popular for building while hickory wood has a smokey, bacon-like smell and is used for tools and smoking.
- The major differences between cedar vs hickory trees include their leaves, fruits, wood, climate preferences and plant families.
- Although they share some superficial similarities, hickories are definitively not a type of cedar - they belong to completely different genus and families.
The Cedar Genus
Cedars are cone-bearing trees that belong to the pine family Pinaceae.
There are four main species of cedar:
- Atlas cedar - Native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria
- Deodar cedar - Native to the western Himalayas
- Cyprus cedar - Native to mountainous areas of the Mediterranean
- Lebanon cedar - Native to the mountains of Lebanon, western Syria and south-central Turkey
Cedars are large evergreen coniferous trees that can grow over 100 feet tall. They have spicy-scented wood and stiff, sharp leaves that turn upward at the ends.
Cedars thrive in temperate mountainous regions with cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
Many species of cedar are important timber trees and are cultivated worldwide.
The fragrant and rot-resistant wood of cedars is popular for building materials, furniture, and essential oils.
The Hickory Genus
In contrast, hickories belong to the walnut family Juglandaceae and are deciduous hardwood trees.
There are around 18 species of hickory that are native to North America, Central America and Asia. Some of the most common hickory species include:
- Shagbark hickory
- Mockernut hickory
- Pignut hickory
- Pecan - The most commercially important species
Hickories are large trees that can reach heights over 100 feet. They have pinnately compound leaves, smooth gray bark and oval nuts.
Hickory wood is known for its strength, hardness and flexibility.
Hickories prefer temperate climates with hot humid summers and cool winters.
They dominate the oak-hickory forests of eastern North America but also grow in some parts of Central America and Asia.
The edible nuts and tough resilient wood make hickories economically and ecologically important.
Hickory wood is used for tool handles, baseball bats, furniture and smoking wood while the nuts are enjoyed for their sweet, distinctive flavor.
Key Differences Between Cedars and Hickories
Although both types of trees can grow quite large, cedars and hickories have a number of distinct differences:
- Cedars are evergreen conifers while hickories are deciduous broadleaf trees that lose their leaves in winter.
- Cedars have small overlapping scale-like leaves and hickories have large, compound pinnate leaves.
- Cedars produce pine cones and hickories produce fruits that look like nuts.
- Cedars thrive in cool mountain regions while hickories prefer temperate lowland areas.
- Cedar wood has a spicy aroma while hickory wood has a smokey, bacon-like smell.
- Cedars belong to the pine family Pinaceae while hickories belong to the walnut family Juglandaceae.