Cedar (Cedrus libani)
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Cedar is a majestic evergreen conifer native to Lebanon and the eastern coast of the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.
Common name: cedar
Scientific name: Cedrus libani
UK provenance: non-native
Interesting fact: cedar wood is used as an insect repellent in its native Lebanon.
What does cedar look like?
Overview: grows to 35m. The bark is blackish-brown with closely spaced ridges and cracks, and twigs are brown and slightly hairy. Cedar has a distinct shape, with several trunks and clear horizontal layers in its structure.
Leaves: dark green leaves are needle like with transparent tips, and arranged in spirals around side shoots in rosettes or clusters.
Flowers: monoecious. Female flowers develop into a green cone, which becomes purple-grey and finally brown when mature, up to 12 months after pollination. Male flowers develop on separate cones that are small and greyish- green when immature, but lengthen and turn brown when mature. They release pollen into the air.
Fruits: cones are 8-12cm long and are often produced every other year.
Look out for: the cones form singly and stand upright at the ends of the short shoots. The needles are clustered along the twigs.
Could be confused with: unlikely to be confused with anything.
Identified in winter by: the barrel shaped cones have a flattened top and a papery feel. The clusters of needles are present year round.
Where to find cedar
Cedar is particularly well adapted to mountainous climates where they receive winter precipitation but is most often found in the UK when planted in parks and gardens of large estates.
Value to wildlife
Cedar is not considered to be particularly valuable to wildlife.
Mythology and symbolism
Cedar was thought to represent purification and protection, and represents incorruptibility and eternal life. It was apparently a Jewish custom to burn cedar wood to celebrate New year.
How we use cedar
In the UK, cedar was planted in nearly every stately home and mansion from the 1740s onwards, however it is not commonly planted today.
Today cedar is used for its hard, durable wood, which retains a sweet fragrance for many years. An oil similar to turpentine can be obtained from the wood.
Cedar may be susceptible to honey fungus and is also prone to aphid attack.