Lebanese cedar, cedar of Lebanon (Vidakovic 1991).
"A geographical race ssp. stenocoma (Schwarz) Davis ( = C. libanitica ssp. stenocarpa Schwarz), found in S.W. Anatolia, differs from the typical Lebanon cedar in having a pyramidal or columnar habit" (Vidakovic 1991).
Tree 20–40 m high and up to 3 m in diameter. Crown dense, pyramidal in youth, developing a wide umbrella shape. Bark dark gray, fissured. Branches very thick, long, on young trees ascending, later horizontal. Shoots glabrous or slightly pubescent. Needles on short shoots, 30–40 in tufts, usually dark green, stiff, 1.5–3.5 cm long, about 1 mm wide, acuminate, 4-sided. Flowers appear from June to September. Cones erect, with the apex flat or slightly concave, 8-10 × 4–6 cm, brown, resinous; ripening from August to October; seeds are shed until spring; seed scales up to 5 cm wide, lightly tomentose on the exterior, closely appressed. Seed 15–18 mm, wing 25 mm long (Vidakovic 1991).
Native to mountains near the Mediterranean in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. In Turkey, occurs from the western Taurus Mountains, east to the province of Hayat; there are also two occurrences near the Black Sea; the area of occupancy is about 993 km2. In Syria, occurs at one location on the eastern side of Jabal an–Nusayriya, with an area of occupancy of only 1.5 km2. In Lebanon, occurs along the Mount Lebanon chain with an area of occupancy of 22 km2. Only some of the Taurus Mountains stands can be described as healthy, intact forest; through its remaining range, the forests are fragmented and degraded by factors of decline that include grazing, logging, urbanization, winter sports, and insect pests (Gardner 2015 and citations therein).
Occurs at elevations of (500-) 1,300-3,000 m, usually on N and W aspects on well-drained, mainly calcareous souls. Climate is cool with abundant winter snow at higher elevations. Typically in pure stands or with Abies cilicica, Juniperus excelsa, J. oxycedrus, Pinus nigra, P. brutia, and hardwood species such as Quercus cerris, Sorbus torminalis, and Prunus ursina (Gardner 2015 and citations therein).
Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).
A specimen 335 cm dbh grows on Mt. Lebanon in Lebanon (Carder 1995). A tree in Villa Mirabello, Lombardia, Varese, VA, Italy has a 360 cm dbh and is 28 m tall (Alberi Monumentali d'Italia, a listing of big trees in Italy). A tree in Leaton Knolls, Shropshire, Great Britain is 113 cm dbh and 43 m tall (Mitchell et al. 1990).
I have found no data for trees in habitat. The Rectory garden at Childry, near Wantage, Oxfordshire, UK, has a tree grown from seed brought back from Lebanon by the Rev. Edward Pococke. Planted in 1658, the tree still lives and in 2002 was selected as one of the 50 Great British Trees. Monumental Trees (2013) notes that a tree close to the château in Rocamadour, France, is known to have been planted in 1685.
This species is mentioned often in the Old Testament of the Bible. For example, the First Temple of Solomon was built of it (see 1 Kings 5:6). In modern times, Cedar of Lebanon is widely cultivated as an ornamental species.
Rania Masri (1995) provides this summary of the species historical importance:
The Cedar of Lebanon is cited numerous times in religion and mythology. In addition to its significant role in the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Cedar of Lebanon is regarded as a world tree in several mythological passages. One deeply mythological passage sees the imperial nation, the embodiment of history, under the figure of something like a world-tree [Ezekiel 31.1-18]. The cutting of the cedar is seen as the destruction of world-empires - really, as the end of history. Our understanding of ecology, the dependence of human history on maintenance of the natural environment, simply makes this primitive insight explicit.
Medicinally, the Cedar of Lebanon also made its mark. The pitch of the cedar was utilized for easing the pain of toothaches. The sawdust of the cedar puts snakes to flight, and thus makes sleeping under the shade of a cedar a relatively safe siesta. Furthermore, based upon historical analyses, it is believed that the cedar was used in the preservation of the corpses in Egypt.
... The Cedar of Lebanon aided society not only culturally but was the basis of numerous economies for ancient civilizations. The cedar had been used for the construction of temples, palaces, and boats. The export of cedar wood to Egypt was an important factor in the growth of Phoenician prosperity and provided capital to launch the more ambitious enterprises in international trading, navigation, and arts and crafts. The Phoenicians and the Egyptians were not alone in utilizing the cedar. The Assyrians, Nebuchdrezzar, the Romans, King David, King of Babylonia, Herod the Great, and the Turks in the Ottoman Empire all exploited the cedars. During the War of 1914-1918, most of the remaining stands were exploited and destroyed for railroad fuel. As a consequence, the extent of the cedars in Lebanon has dramatically declined.
As noted above, the Taurus Mountains are said to have the best remaining wild stands of this species, but that is largely due to its occurrence in remote and inaccessible locations. Gardner (2015) notes that "there are extensive forests occurring from Boz Mountain (Acipayam) in the west and Ahir and Nur (Amanos) mountains in the east," but I have no more specific location information.
The Horsh Ehden nature preserve in Lebanon looks to be a very worthwhile place to visit and see this species; see Fareed (1999) for details.
The Cedars of Bsharre in Lebanon, now in a World Heritage Site, formerly included some remarkably large trees (Gardner 2015, citing a 1965 source).
The species is an extremely popular ornamental in Europe and North America, and is almost universal in arboreta and botanical gardens of the temperate zone.
Fareed Abou-Haidar. 1999.01.15. LebEnv #65: HIKING IN HORSH EHDEN PRESERVE. URL=http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/360/363/363.7/fareed/lebenv65.html, accessed 2000.01.25.
Gardner, Martin F. 2015. Cedrus libani A. Rich. threatenedconifers.rbge.org.uk/taxa/details/cedrus-libani, accessed 2015.10.17.
Masri, Rania. 1995.11. The Cedars of Lebanon: Significance, Awareness and Management of the Cedrus libani in Lebanon. http://almashriq.hiof.no/lebanon/300/360/363/363.7/cedars2.html, accessed 2007.11.15.
Monumental Trees. 2013. Lebanon cedar close to the château in Rocamadour. www.monumentaltrees.com/en/fra/lot/rocamadour/5524_chateau/, accessed 2013.02.16.
Richard, A. 1823. Coniferae. P. 299 in J.B.G.M. Bory de Saint-Vincent et al., Dictionnaire classique d'histoire naturelle, Vol. 3. Available: Biodiversity Heritage Library, accessed 2012.11.25.
Caraglio, Yves. [no date]. Mediterranean Pines and Cedars. amap.cirad.fr/Pines_cedars/species/cedrelib_archi.html (accessed 2006.11.01). This page describes the "Morphology and architecture of Cedrus libani A. Rich."
Farjon (1990) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.
Last Modified 2017-09-04