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Cedrus libani - Cedar of Lebanon

This large evergreen conifer, native to the mountain regions of the Mediterranean is synonymous with the classic English estate or stately home. It will grow on almost any well drained soil, should be planted in full sun and allowed plenty of space for it to reach its full potential.

It has a conical shape when young but with time the crown flattens and the branches spread horizontally to create the majestic tiered shape it is recognized for.

Cedrus libani has two types of growth; long shoots form the main structure of the trees branches and the short shoots bear the cones and the majority of the foliage. The needles of this tree are short and dark green, borne in tufts of 15-45. The large cones are aromatic and sit atop the stems. Male cones are barrel shaped and the female slightly rounder, the latter releases a winged seed when the cones break up at maturity.

Cedar of Lebanon has played an important role in history and has been prized by ancient civilisations. The Phoenicians and Egyptians used the timber for building ships, palaces, and temples. The Egyptians also used the resin for mummification and sawdust from this species has been found in tombs of the pharaohs.

In England, arguably the most famous specimen is in the centre of the ‘Circle of Lebanon’ in Highgate Cemetery. When the land was acquired, the cemetery designers wanted to leave the tree in place so a circular trench was cut around the tree and lined with mausoleums.

FACT: Moses ordered Cedar of Lebanon bark to be used when treating leprosy.

Plant Profile

Name: Cedrus libani

Common Name: Cedar of Lebanon

Family: Pinaceae

Height: up to 40m

Demands: Any well drained soil in full sun. Allow plenty of space to grow .

Foliage: Short, dark green needles grown in tufts from the stems

Bark: Greyish-brown, fissured and deeply cracked in mature trees

Fruit: Male and female cones are borne above the needles.

Cedrus libani info sheet