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Lebanon Cedar in Al Shouf Cedar Nature Reserve, Barouk, Lebanon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Cedrus

See text

Cedar (Cedrus) is a genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae. They share a very similar cone structure with the Firs (Abies) and were traditionally thought to be most closely related to them, but molecular evidence supports a basal position in the family[1][2]. They are native to the mountains of the western Himalaya and the Mediterranean region, occurring at altitudes of 1,500–3,200 m in the Himalaya and 1,000–2,200 m in the Mediterranean.[3]



Foliage of Atlas Cedar

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 defence 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.[3][4]


There are five taxa of Cedrus, assigned according to taxonomic opinion to two to four different species. A majority of the modern sources[5][6][7][8][3][9][10] support the four species concept:

  • 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; two subspecies:
    • Lebanon Cedar Cedrus libani subsp. libani Mountains of Lebanon, western Syria and south-central Turkey. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.
    • Turkish Cedar Cedrus libani subsp. stenocoma (O.Schwarz) Davis. Mountains of southwest Turkey. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–25 mm.
  • Cyprus Cedar Cedrus brevifolia (Hook.f.) A.Henry (syn. Cedrus libani subsp. brevifolia (Hook.f.) Meikle). Mountains of Cyprus. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–20 mm.
  • Atlas Cedar Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Manetti ex Carrière (syn. Cedrus libani subsp. atlantica (Endl.) Batt. & Trab.). Atlas mountains in Morocco & Algeria. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.
A cedar in Lebanon

Some sources[11] support the three species concept treating Cyprus Cedar as subspecies of Lebanon Cedar, and some others[12][13] support the two species concept treating also Atlas Cedar as subspecies of Lebanon Cedar. 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.[14]


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.[3]

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


a cluster of cedar needles
Cedar wood is not only scented, but also has an attractive colour and grain

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.[15] 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, used in products requiring resistance to weather, such as shakes and shingles. Cedar wood and cedar oil are known to be a natural repellent to moths,[16] hence cedar is a popular lining for modern-day closets in which woolens are stored. This specific use of cedar is mentioned in The Iliad (Book 24), referring to the cedar-roofed or lined storage chamber where Priam goes to fetch treasures to be used as ransom. Cedar is also commonly used to make shoe trees as it can absorb moisture and de-odorise.

Cedar is also used for the tops of musical instruments like guitars and has unique tonal qualities. It is rot repellent so it is used to make outdoor furniture and decking.

Timber of trees with similar names such as Western Red Cedar is frequently confused with genuine cedar.

The Cedar of Lebanon and to a lesser extent the Deodar have local cultural importance.


Both the Latin words 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.[17] The name was similarly applied to citron and the word citrus is derived from the same root.[18] 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.[19]

The name "cedar" has more recently (since about 1700[19]) 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 [20] as a misapplication of the name to be discouraged.

See also


  1. ^ Liston A., D.S. Gernandt, T.F. Vining, C.S. Campbell, D. Piñero. 2003. Molecular Phylogeny of Pinaceae and Pinus. In Mill, R.R. (ed.): Proceedings of the 4th Conifer Congress. Acta Hort 615: Pp. 107-114.
  2. ^ Wang, X.-Q., Tank, D. C. and Sang, T. (2000): Phylogeny and Divergence Times in Pinaceae: Evidence from Three Genomes. Molecular Biology and Evolution 17:773-781. Available online
  3. ^ a b c d Farjon, A. (1990). Pinaceae. Drawings and Descriptions of the Genera. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3-87429-298-3.
  4. ^ Frankis, M. & Lauria, F. (1994). The maturation and dispersal of cedar cones and seeds. International Dendrology Society Yearbook 1993: 43–46.
  5. ^ Gymnosperm database Cedrus.
  6. ^ NCBI Taxonomy Browser Cedrus.
  7. ^ Flora of China vol. 4
  8. ^ Qiao, C.-Y., Jin-Hua Ran, Yan Li and Xiao-Quan Wang (2007): Phylogeny and Biogeography of Cedrus (Pinaceae) Inferred from Sequences of Seven Paternal Chloroplast and Maternal Mitochondrial DNA Regions. Annals of Botany 100(3):573-580. Available online
  9. ^ Farjon, A. (2008). A Natural History of Conifers. Timber Press ISBN-10: 0881928690.
  10. ^ Christou, K. A. (1991). The genetic and taxonomic status of Cyprus Cedar, Cedrus brevifolia (Hook.) Henry. Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece.
  11. ^ GRIN Taxonomy for Plants Cedrus.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ Eckenwalder, J. E. (2009). Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press ISBN-10: 0881929743.
  14. ^ Sell, P. D. (1990). Some new combinations in the British Flora. Watsonia 18: 92.
  15. ^ Ødum, S. (1985). Report on frost damage to trees in Denmark after the severe 1981/82 and 1984/85 winters. Hørsholm Arboretum, Denmark.
  16. ^ Cedarwood oils
  17. ^ Meiggs, R. 1982. Trees and Timber in the Ancient Mediterranean World.
  18. ^ Andrews, A. C. 1961. Acclimatization of citrus fruits in the Mediterranean region. Agricultural History 35: 35–46.
  19. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary.
  20. ^ Kelsey, H. P., & Dayton, W. A. (1942). Standardized Plant Names, second edition. American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature. Horace McFarland Company, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Cedrus libani var. atlantica foliage and pollen cone


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Classis: Pinopsida
Ordo: Pinales
Familia: Pinaceae
Genus: Cedrus
Species: C. deodara - C. libani

Vernacular names

العربية: أرز
Български: Кедър
Català: Cedre
Dansk: Ceder
Deitsch: Zeedrebaam
Deutsch: Zedern
Ελληνικά: Κέδρος
English: Cedar
Español: Cedro
Esperanto: Cedro
Français: Cèdre
Galego: Cedro
Italiano: Cedro
עברית: ארז
Latina: Cedrus
Lietuvių: Kedras
Lingála: Sedre
Magyar: Cédrus
Nederlands: Ceder
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Sedere
Polski: Cedr
Português: Cedro
Română: Cedru
Русский: Кедр
Suomi: Setrit
Türkçe: Sedir
中文: 香柏


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