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"Cedrus libani 'glauca', autochthone stand, Ciglikara Ormani in the vicinity of Elmali, Turkey, at 1900 m elevation" (Vidakovic 1991).

map

Distribution: Cedrus atlantica in red, C. brevifolia in blue and C. libani in purple (Vidakovic 1991).

 

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Conservation status

Cedrus libani

A. Rich. 1823

Common names

Lebanese cedar, cedar of Lebanon (Vidakovic 1991).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: C. libanotica Link; C. libanitica (Trew) Pilger; C. libanensis Juss. ex Mirb.; C. cedrus Huth.; C. patula K.Koch (Vidakovic 1991). Author cited as Loud. in (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).

Description

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).

Distribution and Ecology

Originally native to Asia Minor. Currently found in "the Jebel Alaonite mountains in Syria, and Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon in Lebanon, where it is now very rare (according to Paule (1975) there are about 2,000–3,000 ha of forests of this species), but it is still plentiful in the Taurus and Cilician Taurus in Turkey. It grows between 1,300 and 2,100 m elevation. Quite hardy, this light-demanding and calciphile species grows rather slowly" (Vidakovic 1991). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree

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).

Oldest

I have found no data for trees in habitat. Monumental Trees (2013) notes that a tree close to the château in Rocamadour, France, is known to have been planted in 1685, making it no less than 328 years old.

Dendrochronology

Ethnobotany

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.

Observations

The Horsh Ehden nature preserve in Lebanon looks to be a very worthwhile place to visit and see this species in a pristine setting; see Fareed (1999) for details.

Remarks

Citations

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.

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.

Mitchell et al. 1990.

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.

See also

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.

Little 1980.

Last Modified 2013-02-16