Cedar trees

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Cedar trees
Himalayan cedar (Cedrus deodara)

Himalayan cedar ( Cedrus deodara )

Subdivision : Seed plants (Spermatophytina)
Class : Coniferopsida
Order : Conifers (Coniferales)
Family : Pine family (Pinaceae)
Subfamily : Abietoideae
Genre : Cedar trees
Scientific name

The cedar ( Cedrus ) form a plant genus in the family of Pinaceae (Pinaceae).


Cedars are large, evergreen trees that form a broad treetop . They need a lot of sunlight for good growth. Compared to other pine trees, they get by with relatively little rainfall . The wood smells. The bark of young trees is smooth and gray. The small, egg-shaped buds are surrounded by a few scales. There are two types of branches: on the one hand, terminal long shoots with needles arranged individually and in a spiral on the branch, on the other hand, short shoots with bundles of needles. The dark to blue-green needle-shaped leaves stay on the tree for three to six years.

Cedars are single-sexed ( monoecious ), so there are male and female cones on a tree . They are at the end of the short shoots. The upright male cones are first about 5 cm, later up to 8 cm long; they are the biggest in the family. The golden yellow pollen grains are wingless; the pollen flight takes place in autumn, not in spring as with the other genera of the family. The upright, flowering female cones are egg-shaped, reddish, 1 to 1.5 cm long and consist of many seed scales. The closely overlapping seed scales are wider than long, woody with two ovules at their base. The small deck scales cannot be seen. The cones need one to two years from pollination to maturity. The upright, ripe cones are ovate to cylindrical, 5 to 10 cm long. The cones disintegrate when the seeds mature and only the spindle remains on the branch. The large seeds are irregularly triangular, light to gray-brown and 11 to 16 mm long with a 15 to 25 mm large wing, the wing has the same color as the seed.

The seedlings have (eight to ten cotyledons cotyledons ).

Distribution map of the cedar trees

Systematics and occurrence

Two of the three cedar species are found in the Mediterranean region, one species in the western Himalayas .

  • The Atlas cedar ( Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Manetti ex Carrière ) occurs in the Atlas Mountains in Algeria and Morocco . It grows there in a number of isolated locations at altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters.
  • The Himalayan cedar ( Cedrus deodara (Roxb. Ex D. Don) G. Don ) is found in different parts of the Himalayas : in the Hindu Kush of eastern Afghanistan , in Pakistan and in northwestern India (Gharval-Himalaya).
  • The Lebanon cedar ( Cedrus libani A. Rich. ): It is a species from Asia Minor . It grows along the Turkish Mediterranean coast as far as Lebanon , of which it is the symbol. There is also an isolated occurrence in Turkey near the Black Sea and on Cyprus. There are two varieties:
    • Cedrus libani var. Libani : It occurs from Turkey to Lebanon.
    • The Cyprus cedar ( Cedrus libani var. Brevifolia Hook.f. , Syn .: Cedrus brevifolia (Hook. F.) Elwes & A. Henry ) occurs only on the island of Cyprus . It grows there in two small sub-areas.

Relationships between species

All cedar species are closely related to one another. Species that grow in the Mediterranean region in particular have a lot in common, so that some authors have considered combining them into one species.

Based on fossil finds , it is known that cedars once inhabited other areas of the Mediterranean and also the area between the Mediterranean and the Himalayas. It is therefore assumed that the sites that still exist today are remnants of a once extensive population. Today's dry climate in the locations limits the cedar trees to cooler altitudes (often on northern slopes) with sufficient rainfall. In the wild, all types of cedar are threatened due to logging and overgrazing .


Atlas cedar ( Cedrus atlantica ):

Himalayan cedar ( Cedrus deodara ):

Lebanon cedar ( Cedrus libani ):


Cedar of Lebanon


Contrary to popular belief, the wood of the Lebanon cedar has almost no odor, at most a very weak, slightly aromatic odor can be detected on fresh wood. The wood, commonly known colloquially as in the timber trade as cedar wood, on the other hand, comes from some species of the cypress family Cupressaceae , which, in contrast to real cedars of the genus Cedrus, have a very strong, aromatic smell and also a high proportion of essential oils. For example, the scented oil traded as cedar oil is a distillate of the Virginian juniper ( Juniperus virginiana ).

Everyday objects such as shoe trees, moth protection wood and cigar boxes, but also "cedar wood" in musical instrument making, are always made of the much more widespread wood of the type known in American parlance as red cedar ( giant tree of life Thuja plicata ), all wood used in construction below The generic term cedar also comes from this cypress family .

The wood known under the name of Spanish cedar , on the other hand, comes from a deciduous tree, the West Indian cedar ( Cedrela odorata ) from the mahogany family (Meliaceae). It is widely used for lining humidors because of its pleasant smell and ability to regulate the humidity of the environment .

In ancient times, cedars were very popular in shipbuilding because of their easy-to-work and very durable wood. B. with the Phoenicians . Cedar wood was a highly valued material in the 16th century, for example the Venetian Council of Ten in 1556 had to allow all diplomatic relations to take place in order to get permission from the Patriarch of Damascus to cut a cedar, the wood of which was used for the representative doors of the council's weapons collection should be used.

For millennia, cedar wood has also been used as incense and is already mentioned in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh for use as a smoke offering to the gods. In ancient cultures, cedar was later used as an incense when offering animal sacrifices to cover up the stench of the sacrificial meat.

Cedarwood Oil

Cedar oil was used as an immersion oil when microscoping with light microscopes . Just like glass, it has a refractive index of 1.5 and thus enables microscopy with high magnifications. The total reflection resulting from the different refraction of light in the cover glass and the gap can thereby be avoided. Synthetic oils are usually used today.

According to a study by the Institute for Food Technology and the International Wood Protection Development Center , cedar extract (also from Thuja plicata ) has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. The substance β-thujaplicin ( hinokitiol ) was detected. The action against certain molds on pine wood could also be confirmed with the cedar wood extract.



Individual evidence

  1. ^ Aljos Farjon: A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Volume 1, pp. 254-260.
  2. ^ Wolfgang Wolters: Architecture and Ornament. Venetian architectural jewelry of the Renaissance. CH Beck, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-406-45906-4 , pp. 160-161.
  3. Cedar - Cedarwood (cedrus). Retrieved March 16, 2016 .
  4. ^ BM Grohs, H.-W. Wegen, B. Kunz: fungus-inhibiting effect of cedarwood extract and Hiba oil on woody molds. In: European Journal of Wood and Wood Products. Volume 57, No. 4, 1999, pp. 277-281, DOI: 10.1007 / s001070050058 .

Web links

Commons : Cedars ( Cedrus )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files