name = Cedar

image_width = 240px
image_caption = Lebanon Cedar in Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, Barouk, Lebanon
regnum = Plantae
divisio = Pinophyta
classis = Pinopsida
ordo = Pinales
familia = Pinaceae
genus = "Cedrus"
genus_authority = Trew
subdivision_ranks = Species
subdivision = See text

Cedar ("Cedrus") is a genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae. They are most closely related to the Firs ("Abies"), sharing a very similar cone structure. They are native to the mountains of the western Himalaya and the Mediterranean region, occurring at altitudes of 1,500–3200 m in the Himalaya and 1,000–2,200 m in the Mediterranean.Farjon, A. (1990). "Pinaceae. Drawings and Descriptions of the Genera". Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3-87429-298-3.]


Cedars are trees up to 30–40 m (occasionally 60 m) tall with spicy-resinous scented wood, thick ridged or square-cracked bark, and broad, level branches. The shoots are dimorphic, with long shoots, which form the framework of the branches, and short shoots, which carry most of the leaves. The leaves are evergreen and needle-like, 8–60 mm long, arranged in an open spiral phyllotaxis on long shoots, and in dense spiral clusters of 15–45 together on short shoots; they vary from bright grass-green to dark green to strongly glaucous pale blue-green, depending on the thickness of the white wax layer which protects the leaves from desiccation. The seed cones are barrel-shaped, 6–12 cm long and 3–8 cm broad, green maturing grey-brown, and, as in "Abies", disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. The seeds are 10–15 mm long, with a 20–30 mm wing; as in "Abies", the seeds have 2–3 resin blisters, containing an unpleasant-tasting resin, thought to be a defense against squirrel predation. Cone maturation takes one year, with pollination in autumn and the seeds maturing the same time a year later. The pollen cones are slender ovoid, 3–8 cm long, produced in late summer and shedding pollen in autumn.Frankis, M. & Lauria, F. (1994). The maturation and dispersal of cedar cones and seeds. "International Dendrology Society Yearbook" 1993: 43–46.]


There are five taxa of "Cedrus", assigned according to taxonomic opinion to two to four different species:
* Deodar or Deodar Cedar, "Cedrus deodara" (Roxb.) G.Don. Western Himalaya. Leaves bright green to pale glaucous green, 25–60 mm; cones with slightly ridged scales.
* Lebanon Cedar or Cedar of Lebanon "Cedrus libani". Mountains of the Mediterranean region, from Turkey and Lebanon west to Morocco. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 8–25 mm; cones with smooth scales; four varieties, which are treated as species by many authors:
** Lebanon Cedar "Cedrus libani" var. "libani" Mountains of Lebanon, western Syria and south-central Turkey. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.
** Turkish Cedar "Cedrus libani" var. "stenocoma" (O.Schwarz) Frankis (syn. "Cedrus libani" subsp. "stenocoma" (O.Schwarz) Davis). Mountains of southwest Turkey. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–25 mm.
** Cyprus Cedar "Cedrus libani" var. "brevifolia" Hook.f. (syn. "Cedrus libani" subsp. "brevifolia" (Hook.f.) Meikle; "Cedrus brevifolia" (Hook.f.) A.Henry). Mountains of Cyprus. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–20 mm.
** Atlas Cedar "Cedrus libani" var. "atlantica" (Endl.) Hook.f. (syn. "Cedrus libani" subsp. "atlantica" (Endl.) Batt. & Trab.; "Cedrus atlantica" (Endl.) Manetti ex Carrière). Atlas mountains in Morocco & Algeria. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.The treatment of the Turkish, Cyprus and Atlas Cedars as varieties or subspecies of Lebanon Cedar is found primarily in botanical and floristic works, [Hooker, J. D. (1862). On the Cedars of Lebanon, Taurus, Algeria and India. "Nat. Hist. Rev". 2: 11–18.] [Battander, J.-A. & Trabut, L. (1905). "Flora de l'Algérie".] Schwarz, O. (1944). Anatolica. "Feddes Repertorium" 54: 26-34.] [Coode, M. J. E., & Cullen, J., eds. (1965). Pinaceae. In: "Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands" 1: 67–85. Edinburgh University Press.] [Meikle, R. D. (1977). "Flora of Cyprus" vol. 1. Bentham - Moxon Trust, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. London.] [Browicz, K. & Zielinski, J. (1982). "Chorology of Trees and Shrubs in southwest Asia" vol. 1.] [Greuter, W., Burdet, H. M., & Long, G. (eds.), (1984). Med-Checklist — A critical inventory of vascular plants of the circum-mediterranean countries. [http://ww2.bgbm.org/mcl/PTaxonDetail.asp?NameId=780&PTRefFk=1273 "Cedrus"] , [http://ww2.bgbm.org/mcl/PTaxonDetail.asp?NameId=781&PTRefFk=1273 "Cedrus libani"] ] [Güner, A., Özhatay, N., Ekim, T., & Başer, K. H. C. (ed.). 2000. "Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands" 11 (Supplement 2): 5–6. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-1409-5] while treatment as separate species is more widespread in popular horticultural use,Walters, W. M. (1986). "European Garden Flora" Vol 1. ISBN 0-521-24859-0.] but also in some botanical works. [Christou, K. A. (1991). The genetic and taxonomic status of Cyprus Cedar, "Cedrus brevifolia" (Hook.) Henry. Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece.] [Gymnosperm database [http://www.conifers.org/pi/ce/index.htm "Cedrus"] .] The discrepancy in treatment derives largely from the very narrow gene base of trees in cultivation, which gives a false impression of distinctiveness of the taxa, not borne out when the wider range of variation found in wild trees is examined.Gaussen, H. (1964). Genre "Cedrus". Les Formes Actuelles. "Trav. Lab. For. Toulouse" T2 V1 11: 295–320] The Deodar Cedar is more distinct and almost universally accepted as a separate species, though very rarely, it has also been treated as a subspecies of Lebanon Cedar, "C. libani" subsp. "deodara" (Roxb.) P.D.Sell, thus regarding the genus as comprising a single species. [Sell, P. D. (1990). Some new combinations in the British Flora. "Watsonia" 18: 92.]


Cedars are adapted to mountainous climates; in the Mediterranean they receive winter precipitation, mainly as snow, and summer drought, while in the western Himalaya, they receive primarily summer monsoon rainfall.

Cedars are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Pine Processionary and Turnip Moth (recorded on Deodar Cedar).


Cedars are very popular ornamental trees, widely used in horticulture in temperate climates where winter temperatures do not fall below about −25 °C. The Turkish Cedar is slightly hardier, to −30 °C or just below. Extensive mortality of planted specimens can occur in severe winters where temperatures do drop lower.Ødum, S. (1985). Report on frost damage to trees in Denmark after the severe 1981/82 and 1984/85 winters. Hørsholm Arboretum, Denmark.] Areas with successful long-term cultivation include the entire Mediterranean region, western Europe north to the British Isles, southern Australia and New Zealand, and southern and western North America.

They are also grown for their durable (decay-resistant) scented wood, most famously used in the construction of King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem provided by King Hiram, or Ahiram, of Tyre, Lebanon, circa 1000 BC. The wood is also used for humbler purposes requiring resistance to weather, such as shakes and shingles. Cedar wood and cedar oil is known to be a natural repellent to moths, [ [http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~nodice/new/magazine/cedar/cedar.htm Cedarwood oils] ] hence cedar is a popular lining for modern-day closets in which woolens are stored. The use of cedar is mentioned in "The Iliad" Book 24, referring to the cedar-roofed or lined storage chamber where Priam goes to fetch the treasures used to ransom the corpse of his son Hector from Achilles.


Both the Latin word "cedrus" and the generic name "cedrus" are derived from the Greek 'kedros'. Ancient Greek and Latin used the same word, "kedros" and "cedrus" respectively, for different species of plants now classified in the genera "Cedrus" and "Juniperus" (juniper). Species of both genera are native to the area where Greek language and culture originated, though as the word "kedros" does not seem to be derived from any of the languages of the Middle East, it has been suggested the word may originally have applied to Greek species of juniper and was later adopted for species now classified in the genus "Cedrus" because of the similarity of their aromatic woods. [Meiggs, R. 1982. Trees and Timber in the Ancient Mediterranean World.] The name was similarly applied to citron and the word "citrus" is derived from the same root.Andrews, A. C. 1961. Acclimatization of citrus fruits in the Mediterranean region. "Agricultural History" 35: 35–46.] However, as a loan word in English, cedar had become fixed to its biblical sense of "Cedrus" by the time of its first recorded usage in AD 1000."Oxford English Dictionary".]

The name "cedar" has more recently (since about 1700) been applied to many other trees with scented wood (in some cases with the botanical name alluding to this usage). Such usage is regarded by some authorities Kelsey, H. P., & Dayton, W. A. (1942). "Standardized Plant Names", second edition. American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature. Horace McFarland Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.] as a misapplication of the name to be discouraged.


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