Cedrus libani

Cedrus libani
Lebanon cedar in the forest of the Cedars of God.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Pinaceae
Genus: Cedrus
Species: C. libani
Binomial name
Cedrus libani

Cedrus libani is a species of cedar native to the mountains of the Mediterranean region.[2][3][4] It is named after and appears on the flag of Lebanon, where it is native, and is also endemic in areas ranging from eastern Turkey to western Jordan.


Cedrus libani foliage

Cedrus libani is an evergreen coniferous tree growing up to 40 m (130 ft) tall, with a trunk up to 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) in diameter. The crown is conic when young, becoming broadly tabular with age with fairly level branches.

The shoots are dimorphic, with long shoots and short shoots. The leaves are needle-like, spaced out on the long shoots, and in clusters of 15-45 on the short shoots; they are 5–30 mm (14–1316 in) in length, quadrangular in cross-section, and vary from green to glaucous blue-green with stomatal bands on all four sides. The seed cones are produced often every second year, and mature in 12 months from pollination; mature cones in late autumn are 8–12 cm (3–434 in) long and 4–6 cm (112–238 in) wide.


Cedrus libani was first classified by the French botanist Achille Richard. There are two distinct types that are considered either as subspecies or varieties:

Some botanists also classify the Cyprus cedar (Cedrus brevifolia)[5] and Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)[6][7] as subspecies of C. libani. However, a majority of the modern sources[2][8][9][10][11][12][13] consider them distinct species.


In Lebanon and Turkey it occurs most abundantly at altitudes of 1,000-2,000 m (3,300–6,500 ft), where it forms pure forests or mixed forests with Cilician fir (Abies cilicica), European black pine (Pinus nigra), and several juniper (Juniperus) species. On Cyprus, it occurs at 1,000-1,525 m (3,300–5,000 ft) (reaching the summit of Mount Paphos). In the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, it occurs at 1,370–2,200 m (4,500–7,200 ft) in pure forests or mixed with Abies species and Juniperus thurifera.[2]

History, symbolism and uses

Cedar of Lebanon cone showing flecks of resin
Male cone of cedar of Lebanon

Hebrew priests were ordered by Moses to use the bark of the Lebanon cedar in the treatment of leprosy.[14] The Hebrew prophet Isaiah used the Lebanon cedar as a metaphor for the pride of the world.[15]

Over the centuries, extensive deforestation has occurred, with only small remnants of the original forests surviving. Deforestation has been particularly severe in Lebanon and on Cyprus; on Cyprus, only small trees up to 25 m (82 ft) tall survive, though Pliny the Elder recorded cedars 40 m (130 ft) tall there.[16] Extensive reforestation of cedar is carried out in the Mediterranean region, particularly Turkey, where over 50 million young cedars are being planted annually.[17] The Lebanese populations are also now expanding through a combination of replanting and protection of natural regeneration from browsing by goats, hunting, forest fires, and woodworms.[18]

Historically, there were various attempts at conserving the Lebanon cedars. The first was made by the Roman emperor Hadrian, "when the great cedar forests of Lebanon were already much diminished in area."[19] Hadrian created an imperial forest and ordered it marked by inscribed boundary stones, two of which are in the museum of the American University of Beirut.[20]

National and regional significance

The Lebanese flag, with the Lebanon cedar in the middle

The Lebanon cedar is the national emblem of Lebanon, and is displayed on the flag of Lebanon and coat of arms of Lebanon. It is also the logo of Middle East Airlines (MEA), which is Lebanon's national carrier. Beyond that, it is also the main symbol of Lebanon's "Cedar Revolution" of 2005, along with many Lebanese political parties and movements, such as the Kataeb Party, the Lebanese Forces, the National Liberal Party, and the Future Movement. Finally, Lebanon is sometimes metonymically referred to as the Land of the Cedars.[21][22]

As a result of long exploitation, few old trees remain in Lebanon, but there is now an active program to conserve and regenerate the forests. The Lebanese approach has emphasized natural regeneration rather than planting, and this by creating the right conditions. The Lebanese state has created several cedar reserves or nature reserves that contain cedars, including the Chouf Cedar Reserves, the Jaj Cedar Reserve, the Tannourine Reserve, the Ammouaa and Karm Shbat Reserves in the Akkar district, and the Forest of the Cedars of God near Bsharri.[23][24][25] Extensive replanting is taking place in Turkey, where approximately 300 square kilometres (74,000 acres) of cedar are planted annually.[18]

Horticultural use

The Lebanon cedar is widely planted as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.[26][27][28]

It is unknown when the first cedar of Lebanon was planted in Britain, but it dates at least to 1664, when it is mentioned in Sylva, or A Discourse of Forest-Trees and the Propagation of Timber.[29] In Britain, cedars of Lebanon are known for their use in London's Highgate Cemetery.[30] However, the plant is known among arborists for its tendency to drop branches without warning, and the use of wire bracing is common to reduce risks of falling branches.[30]

C. libani has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[31]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cedrus libani.

See also


  1. Gardner, M. (2013). "Cedrus libani". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2013: e.T46191675A46192926. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T46191675A46192926.en. Retrieved 27 August 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Farjon, A. (1990). Pinaceae. Drawings and Descriptions of the Genera. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3-87429-298-3.
  3. Greuter, W., Burdet, H. M., & Long, G. (eds.), (1984). Med-Checklist – A critical inventory of vascular plants of the circum-mediterranean countries. Cedrus libani
  4. Conifer Specialist Group (1998). "Cedrus libani". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2006. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 12 May 2006.
  5. GRIN Taxonomy for Plants Cedrus.
  6. Güner, A., Özhatay, N., Ekim, T., & Başer, K. H. C. (ed.). 2000. Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands 11 (Supplement 2): 5–6. Edinburgh University Press. ISBN 0-7486-1409-5
  7. Eckenwalder, J. E. (2009). Conifers of the World: The Complete Reference. Timber Press ISBN 0-88192-974-3.
  8. Gymnosperm database Cedrus.
  9. NCBI Taxonomy Browser Cedrus.
  10. Flora of China vol. 4
  11. Qiao, C.-Y., Jin-Hua Ran, Yan Li and Xiao-Quan Wang (2007): Phylogeny and Biogeography of Cedrus (Pinaceae) Inferred from Sequences of Seven Paternal Chloroplast and Maternal Mitochondrial DNA Regions. Annals of Botany 100(3):573-580. Available online
  12. Farjon, A. (2008). A Natural History of Conifers. Timber Press ISBN 0-88192-869-0.
  13. Christou, K. A. (1991). The genetic and taxonomic status of Cyprus Cedar, Cedrus brevifolia (Hook.) Henry. Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Greece.
  14. Leviticus 14:1-4
  15. Isaiah 2:13
  16. Willan, R. G. N. (1990). The Cyprus Cedar. Int. Dendrol. Soc. Yearbk. 1990: 115-118.
  17. Anon. History of Turkish Forestry. Turkish Ministry of Forestry.
  18. 1 2 Khuri, S., & Talhouk, S. N. (1999). Cedar of Lebanon. Pages 108-111 in Farjon, A., & Page, C. N. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: Conifers. IUCN/SSC Conifer Specialist Group. ISBN 2-8317-0465-0.
  19. Myra Shackley, "Managing the Cedars of Lebanon: Botanical Gardens or Living Forests" in The Politics of World Heritage: Negotiating Tourism and Conservation (eds. David Harrisom & Michael Hitchcock: Channel View, 2005), pp. 141-142.
  20. Shackley, p. 141.
  21. Budge, E.A.W. (2010). The Literature of the Ancient Egyptians. HardPress. p. 261.
  22. Cromer, G. (2004). A war of words: political violence and public debate in Israel. Cass series on political violence. Frank Cass. ISBN 978-0-7146-5631-1.
  23. Talhouk, S. N. & Zurayk, S. 2003. Conifer conservation in Lebanon. Acta Hort. 615: 411-414.
  24. Semaan, M. & Haber, R. 2003. In situ conservation on Cedrus libani in Lebanon. Acta Hort. 615: 415-417.
  25. Cedars of Lebanon Nature Reserve Archived 19 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Gabriel Hemery & Sarah Simblet, The New Sylva: A Discourse of Forest and Orchard Trees for the Twenty-First Century (A&C Black: 2014), p. 54.
  27. Evelyn Maino & Frances Howard, Ornamental Trees: An Illustrated Guide to Their Selection and Care (University of California Press, 1955), p. 168.
  28. Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani), Arkive (accessed January 14, 2016).
  29. Hemery & Simblet, p. 54.
  30. 1 2 Hemery & Simblet, p. 55.
  31. Cedrus libani: cedar of Lebanon, Royal Horticultural Society.
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