Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) Foliage
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) Foliage

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Description, Care & Uses

The Cedar of Lebanon, the Cedar of God, is an unbowed, proud and imposing coniferous tree.

Its womb and cradle is that region of the southeastern side of the Mediterranean Basin, the Asia Minor coastline and the Middle East, which saw the rise of important and great civilizations, which marked the course of humanity on the path of deepening knowledge, the conquest of the technique and the development of technology.

All those great, indeed, civilizations used Cedar.

And they rewarded it.

The Cedar of Lebanon, the Cedar of God, nearly got to disappear.

Lebanon Cedar Origin

Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon) - Map of Origin
Cedrus libani (Cedar of Lebanon) - Map of Origin

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Female Seed-Cones of Lebanon Cedar
Female Seed-Cones of Lebanon Cedar

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Brief Description

Family: Pinaceae

Genus: Cedrus

Scientific Name: Cedrus libani A.Rich

Common Name: Cedar of Lebanon, Lebanon Cedar, Cedar-of-Lebanon

General Characteristics

Leaf Persistence

Evergreen

Form

Coniferous Tree Pyramidal Shape

Texture

Fine

Growth Rate

Slow

Flowering Period (Northern Hemisphere)

September – November

Fruiting Period

Winter – Spring (17-18 months after)

Height

25 – 35 m (<40 m) • 82 – 114 ft (<130 ft)

Diameter

10 – 15 m (up to 30 m) • 32 -50 ft (up to 98 ft)

Shapes and Colours

Leaves Shape

Needle-like

Foliage Colour

Bluish Green

Autumn Foliage Colour

Bluish Green

Flowers Shape

Catkins (M.), Cones (F.)

Flowers Colour

Reddish Brown

Seeds

Brown, Winged Shape

Plantation

Soil Type: Well-drained, sand, loam, clay, acidic

Exposure: Sun

Soil pH: 5-8.2

Watering: Moderate

Hardiness: -26 °C (−15 °F – USDA Hardiness Zone 5b)

Uses

Specimen, garden and parks

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedars of God Forest in Snow - Lebanon
Cedars of God Forest in Snow - Lebanon

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Etymology

Etymology of the Genus Name

The name of the genus Cedrus comes from the Ancient Greek word ‘κέδρος’. And, of course, this could be a good, very interesting start for the etymology of the word if we knew exactly what it means.

Unfortunately – until these lines are written – the etymology of the word ‘κέδρος’ is still unsure or remain another puzzle that linguists have to solve.

It is more likely to have a Phoenician/Proto-Semitic root since the Arabic word ‘kedre’ means ‘strength, power’, describing the Cedar tree quite satisfactorily.

Etymology of the Species Name

Luckily for us, the Neo-Latin name of the genus libani is fully etymological: it means ‘that which originates from Lebanon’, while ‘Lebanon’ derives from the Phoenician/Proto-Semitic word ‘laban’ which means ‘white.

It is almost understandable that if it does not refer to the snowy Mount Lebanon, then this etymology – completely between us – is for the linguistic rubbish.

On the contrary, if it refers to the white color that comes out of the burning conifer resin, then okay, we have to admit that the linguists again targeted this time.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedrus libani Tree of Forty Hall, Enfield, Planted in the Eighteenth Century
Cedrus libani Tree of Forty Hall, Enfield, Planted in the Eighteenth Century

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Origin & Life Span

Origin

The Cedar of Lebanon is – as strange as it may seem – native to Lebanon as well as neighboring areas of Syria and Cilicia, in present-day Turkey on Taurus Mountains, while two small populations are also found in the mountains that are bordering on the Black Sea.

It is basically mountainous conifer since its natural populations are found at an altitude of 800 to 2100 m. However, its populations are observed both at lower (up to 500 m) and at higher altitudes (up to 3000 m).

Life Span

The Lebanon Cedar, thanks to the fresh air of the mountains, lives for about 150 to 300 years. However, the recorded cases of Cedar of Lebanon trees of 1000 years age are not an exception.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Morphological Elements

The Cedar of Lebanon is a large-sized and upright appearance coniferous tree, which develops a trunk, that ends in almost horizontally tiered branches – when mature. The lower branches often touch the ground.

The canopy of the conifer has an initial pyramid shape which over time becomes flat-topped open umbrella. Generally the canopy is rather symmetrical with an irregular outline.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Male Cones of Lebanon Cedar
Male Cones of Lebanon Cedar

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Botanical Description

Trunk

The bark of the Cedar of Lebanon twigs is light brown-gray in color, which becomes gray-brown in the older branches. The trunk is grayish brown in color and initially is smooth.

Then, by growing the conifer, it becomes rough, fissured, by forming grooves and its color becomes darker. The perimeter of the trunk is sometimes very impressive since it can reach up to 14 m (46 ft).

Branches

As with all Cedar species, the Cedrus libani has two types of branchlets:

  • Long Branchlets  
  • Short Branchlets

The youngest shoots of the conifer have a light brown-gray color, which on the older branches becomes grayish-brown.

Leaves

Lebanon Cedar leaves are needle-shaped and square in cross-section. They are bundles of 20 to 40 which carried on short stems, their color is bluish green while their size ranges from 0.5 to 3 cm (0.2-1.2 in) in length and 0.8-1 mm (0.03-0.04 in) in width..

Cones

The flowers are in the same tree but on separate branches the males from the females. The males form brownish-yellow erect catkins, up to 5 cm (1.96 in) in length, and the female cone-like inflorescences which are also erect, cylindrical and grayish-brown in color, with a length of between 8 and 12 cm (3.14-4.72 in) and a diameter of between 3 and 6 cm (1.18-2.36 in).

Pollination

Pollination takes place by the wind.

Seeds

The barrel-shaped cones, when mature, consistes by numerous closely appressed, very broad scales, each containing 2 seeds.

Seeds, which need about a year and a half to mature, are winged, with a membranous, broad wing, and brown in color. Their dimensions are 10 to 14 mm (0.4-0.55 in) in length and 4 to 6 mm (0.15-0.23 in) in width. Seeds have a germination capacity of about 60 to 85%.

The Cedar of Lebanon enters the reproducing phase after the age of 25 to 30 years.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Climate and Soil

Temperature

Cedar of Lebanon is a plant that is adaptable and tolerant to both cold and heat. The minimum temperatures, which are the lowest tolerance limit, range between -23 and -26 °C (-9 to -14.8 °F). Of course fully established Cedars, in their natural niches, withstand minimum temperatures up to -35 °C (-31 °F).

These performances, proclaim Cedar of Lebanon to the most cold-hardy species of the four of its genus. At high temperatures Cedar’s behavior is excellent. Indeed, temperatures often above 40 °C (104 °F) have no negative effect on the plant.

Soil and pH

In relation to the soil, Cedrus libani can be planted in nearly all soil types as long as they have excellent drainage.

As for pH, it grows over a wide range of values, ranging from 5 to 8.2, although it prefers slightly acidic to slightly alkaline reaction soils with values ranging from 6.6 to 8.2.

Exposure

The Cedar of Lebanon is planted in full sun exposure locations. Of course, young seedlings can grow in partial shade conditions, but by growing, care must be taken to be able to receive the sunlight directly.

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Pests & Diseases

In practice, it does not face problems from pests and diseases. However, sometimes, the insect Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar) may attack the plant, while Tip Blight (Diplodia pinea) and Honey Fungus (Armillaria mellea) are reported from fungi.

Pests

Immediately below are recorded the most important pests of Cedrus libani.

Various Insects
  • Acleris undulana (Cedar Leaf Moth)
  • Cephalcia tannourinensis (Cedar Web-Spinning Sawfly)
  • Dasineura cedri
  • Dichelia cedricola (Lebanese Cedar Shoot Moth)
  • Ernobius libanensis (Cedar Bud Beetle)
  • Epinotia cedricida (Moth)
  • Lymantria dispar (Gypsy Moth)
  • Megastigmus schimitscheki (Cedar Seed Chalcid)
  • Orthotomicus erosus (Mediterranean pine beetle)
  • Phloeosinus cedri
  • Thaumetopoea pityocampa (Pine Processionary Moth)
Aphids
  • Cinara laportei – syn.Cedrobium lapportei (Brown Cedar Aphid)
  • Cinara cedri (Cedar Bark Aphid)
Scales

 

  • Ceroplastes floridensis (Florida Wax Scale)
  • Herpotrichia juniperi (Conifers Snow Mould)
  • Phenacoccus arambourgi

By the timely use of appropriate insecticides, their treatment is from satisfactory to difficult.

Diseases

After the pests, the recording of the diseases follows.

Fungi
  • Armillaria mellea (Honey Fungus)
  • Botrytis cinerea (Botrytis Bunch Rot)
  • Diplodia pinea (Tip Blight)
  • Phytophthora syringae (Twig Blight of Lilac)
  • Sirococcus tsugae (Sirococcus blight)

By the timely use of appropriate fungicides, their treatment is satisfactory, while for Armillaria mellea only preventive operations can be performed – otherwise it is not managed.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Toxicity & Allergenicity

Toxicity

The Cedrus libani is not toxic to humans or pets. However, contact with the plant’s wood by the hands can cause skin irritation in sensitive individuals.

Allergenicity

For people with sensitivity, the exposure to cedar wood dust can cause asthma and respiratory disorders, as well as catarrh.

In contrast, for exposure to plant pollen, there is no evidence linking it to allergic reactions.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedrus libani - Cedars of God
Cedrus libani - Cedars of God
Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara) Big Tree in a Park at Tuscany, Italy

Deodar Cedar

Description and Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Classification & Varieties

Classification

For the classification of the Cedrus libani, the indefatigable reader of ‘Kalliergeia’ must go a visit to the article related to the Genus Cedrus.

Varieties

Cedar of Lebanon is a widespread species, thanks to its great adaptability and its imposing and magnificent appearance.

However, relatively few varieties of the species have been created, but on the other hand they offer an extremely interesting range of forms and colors.

Some of these are:

  • Cedrus libani ‘Glauca’
  • Cedrus libani ‘Pendula’
  • Cedrus libani ’Glauca Pendula’
  • Cedrus libani ‘Atlantica Aurea’
  • Cedrus libani ‘Aurea Prostrata’
  • Cedrus libani ‘Beacon Hill’
  • Cedrus libani ‘Home Park’

At some point, in the very visible and clearly foreseeable future, the always patient reader of ‘Kalliergeia’, let him expect a special tribute on the varieties of Lebanese Cedar.

… Or in any case let him expect any tribute and vow.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Care

The planting and cultivation of Cedrus libani in the garden and in the landscape does not present particular difficulties. To a large extent, the required care for the trees, it could be said, is exhausted in their fertilization and irrigation.

Fertilization

The fertilization of the Cedar of Lebanon is done from the end of the winter until the end of spring. It can be used a complete fertilizer containing the main elements N-P-K in a ratio of 1: 1: 1 (20-20-20) or 1: 0.5: 1.

Administration is done either once, if the fertilizer is controlled release, or in 4 doses at a frequency 1 per month. The amount of administration is determined by the age of the conifer and by the particular soil and climatic conditions.

Indicatively, it is mentioned that to the adult trees of the Cedar can be given a quantity of 150 to 250 gr of fertilizer per tree and year.

Also the folliage application in mid-March by a preparation of trace elements as well as the addition of chelating iron and magnesium will be beneficial for the tree.

No other fertilization treatment is made after the end of Spring.

Irrigation

In its natural niches, Cedar of Lebanon grows in environments with an average annual rainfall of between 600 and 1500 mm. However, if established, it can cope without problems with long periods of drought.

Of course, as happens for all Cedar species and varieties, when grown for ornamental purposes, regular watering favors the best growth of the tree.

Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) - Abuse & Use

Abuse

Lebanon’s Cedar is now receiving another scale of care after its systematic abuse.

What abuse?

The one who promoted the Cedar of Lebanon to a privileged field of demonstration of the misguided, unreasonable and non-orthological use of trees, to meet the real but and imagined, fake needs of human societies.

The consequence of overexploitation could be nothing but the fact that the Cedars of Lebanon were literally decimated and the Cedar forests in many areas shrunk and/or disappeared, destroyed – still recording an achievement of the coexistence of human greed with the equally human infinite stupidity.

The massive plantings that have taken place over the past decades in Turkey and Lebanon are attempting to restore and /or reestablish – at least in part – the once extensive Cedar forests.

Uses

Cedar of Lebanon has ethnobotany and pharmaceutical value while its aromatic wood is used in the construction, woodworking and instrumental industries.

Also, as mentioned above, the tree can be cultivated without much difficulty, and indeed it is widely cultivated for ornamental purposes utilized in both gardening and landscape architecture.

Section

References

The great non-Lebanese artist Boubacar Traoré, from Mali presents the references of the article with the non-Lebanese title Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) – Description, Care & Uses, with the non-Lebanese song Baba Drame.

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