Definitions

cedar

cedar

[see-der]
cedar, common name for a number of trees, mostly coniferous evergreens. The true cedars belong to the small genus Cedrus of the family Pinaceae (pine family). All are native to the Old World from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, although several are cultivated elsewhere as ornamentals, especially the cedar of Lebanon (C. libani), which appears in the Lebanese flag. This tree, native to Asia Minor and North Africa, is famous for the historic groves of the Lebanon Mts., frequently mentioned in the Bible. The wood used in building the Temple and the house of Solomon (1 Kings 5, 6, and 7) may, however, have been that of the deodar cedar (C. deodara), native to the Himalayas. It has fragrant wood, durable and fine grained, and is venerated by the Hindus, who call it Tree of God. The name cedar is used (particularly in North America, where no cedars are native) for other conifers, e.g., the juniper (red cedar), arborvitae (white cedar), and others of the family Cupressaceae (cypress family). Several tropical American trees of the genus Cedrela of the mahogany family are also called cedars. True cedars are classified in the division Pinophyta, class Pinopsida, order Coniferales, family Pinaceae.

Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

Any of four species of tall ornamental and timber evergreen coniferous trees of the genus Cedrus, in the pine family. Three cedars are native to mountainous areas of the Mediterranean region and one to the western Himalayas. These “true” cedars are the Atlas cedar (C. atlantica), the Cyprus cedar (C. brevifolia), the deodar (C. deodara), and the cedar of Lebanon (C. libani). Cedarwood is light, soft, resinous, and durable, even when in contact with soil or moisture. Many other conifers known as cedars resemble true cedars in being evergreen and in having aromatic, often red or red-tinged wood that in many cases is decay-resistant and insect-repellent. The giant arborvitae, incense cedar, and some junipers (red cedar) provide the familiar “cedarwood” of pencils, chests, closet linings, and fence posts. Seealso white cedar.

Learn more about cedar with a free trial on Britannica.com.

City (pop., 2000: 120,758), eastern Iowa, U.S. Originally called Rapids City, it was settled in the 1830s next to rapids of the Cedar River, a source of waterpower. With the coming of the railroads, it developed as a grain and livestock market. Neighbouring Kingston was annexed in 1870, and Kenwood Park in 1926. Its manufactures include electronic equipment and farm machinery. It was the home of the artist Grant Wood.

Learn more about Cedar Rapids with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Preserve, southwestern Utah, U.S. Established as a national monument in 1933, it consists of a vast natural amphitheatre (10 sq mi [26 sq km]) eroded in a limestone escarpment. Iron and manganese oxide impurities in the cliff produce an amazing variety of colours that change constantly.

Learn more about Cedar Breaks National Monument with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Cedar (Cedrus) is a genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae. They are most closely related to the Firs (Abies), sharing a very similar cone structure. They are native to the mountains of the western Himalaya and the Mediterranean region, occurring at altitudes of 1,500–3200 m in the Himalaya and 1,000–2,200 m in the Mediterranean.

Description

Cedars are trees up to 30–40 m (occasionally 60 m) tall with spicy-resinous scented wood, thick ridged or square-cracked bark, and broad, level branches. The shoots are dimorphic, with long shoots, which form the framework of the branches, and short shoots, which carry most of the leaves. The leaves are evergreen and needle-like, 8–60 mm long, arranged in an open spiral phyllotaxis on long shoots, and in dense spiral clusters of 15–45 together on short shoots; they vary from bright grass-green to dark green to strongly glaucous pale blue-green, depending on the thickness of the white wax layer which protects the leaves from desiccation. The seed cones are barrel-shaped, 6–12 cm long and 3–8 cm broad, green maturing grey-brown, and, as in Abies, disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. The seeds are 10–15 mm long, with a 20–30 mm wing; as in Abies, the seeds have 2–3 resin blisters, containing an unpleasant-tasting resin, thought to be a defense against squirrel predation. Cone maturation takes one year, with pollination in autumn and the seeds maturing the same time a year later. The pollen cones are slender ovoid, 3–8 cm long, produced in late summer and shedding pollen in autumn.

Taxonomy

There are five taxa of Cedrus, assigned according to taxonomic opinion to two to four different species:

  • Deodar or Deodar Cedar, Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) G.Don. Western Himalaya. Leaves bright green to pale glaucous green, 25–60 mm; cones with slightly ridged scales.
  • Lebanon Cedar or Cedar of Lebanon Cedrus libani. Mountains of the Mediterranean region, from Turkey and Lebanon west to Morocco. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 8–25 mm; cones with smooth scales; four varieties, which are treated as species by many authors:
    • Lebanon Cedar Cedrus libani var. libani Mountains of Lebanon, western Syria and south-central Turkey. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.
    • Turkish Cedar Cedrus libani var. stenocoma (O.Schwarz) Frankis (syn. Cedrus libani subsp. stenocoma (O.Schwarz) Davis). Mountains of southwest Turkey. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–25 mm.
    • Cyprus Cedar Cedrus libani var. brevifolia Hook.f. (syn. Cedrus libani subsp. brevifolia (Hook.f.) Meikle; Cedrus brevifolia (Hook.f.) A.Henry). Mountains of Cyprus. Leaves glaucous blue-green, 8–20 mm.
    • Atlas Cedar Cedrus libani var. atlantica (Endl.) Hook.f. (syn. Cedrus libani subsp. atlantica (Endl.) Batt. & Trab.; Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Manetti ex Carrière). Atlas mountains in Morocco & Algeria. Leaves dark green to glaucous blue-green, 10–25 mm.

The treatment of the Turkish, Cyprus and Atlas Cedars as varieties or subspecies of Lebanon Cedar is found primarily in botanical and floristic works, while treatment as separate species is more widespread in popular horticultural use, but also in some botanical works. The discrepancy in treatment derives largely from the very narrow gene base of trees in cultivation, which gives a false impression of distinctiveness of the taxa, not borne out when the wider range of variation found in wild trees is examined. The Deodar Cedar is more distinct and almost universally accepted as a separate species, though very rarely, it has also been treated as a subspecies of Lebanon Cedar, C. libani subsp. deodara (Roxb.) P.D.Sell, thus regarding the genus as comprising a single species.

Ecology

Cedars are adapted to mountainous climates; in the Mediterranean they receive winter precipitation, mainly as snow, and summer drought, while in the western Himalaya, they receive primarily summer monsoon rainfall.

Cedars are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Pine Processionary and Turnip Moth (recorded on Deodar Cedar).

Uses

Cedars are very popular ornamental trees, widely used in horticulture in temperate climates where winter temperatures do not fall below about −25 °C. The Turkish Cedar is slightly hardier, to −30 °C or just below. Extensive mortality of planted specimens can occur in severe winters where temperatures do drop lower. Areas with successful long-term cultivation include the entire Mediterranean region, western Europe north to the British Isles, southern Australia and New Zealand, and southern and western North America.

They are also grown for their durable (decay-resistant) scented wood, most famously used in the construction of King Solomon's temple in Jerusalem provided by King Hiram, or Ahiram, of Tyre, Lebanon, circa 1000 BC. The wood is also used for humbler purposes requiring resistance to weather, such as shakes and shingles. Cedar wood and cedar oil is known to be a natural repellent to moths, hence cedar is a popular lining for modern-day closets in which woolens are stored. The use of cedar is mentioned in The Iliad Book 24, referring to the cedar-roofed or lined storage chamber where Priam goes to fetch the treasures used to ransom the corpse of his son Hector from Achilles.

Etymology

Both the Latin word cedrus and the generic name cedrus are derived from the Greek 'kedros'. Ancient Greek and Latin used the same word, kedros and cedrus respectively, for different species of plants now classified in the genera Cedrus and Juniperus (juniper). Species of both genera are native to the area where Greek language and culture originated, though as the word "kedros" does not seem to be derived from any of the languages of the Middle East, it has been suggested the word may originally have applied to Greek species of juniper and was later adopted for species now classified in the genus Cedrus because of the similarity of their aromatic woods. The name was similarly applied to citron and the word citrus is derived from the same root. However, as a loan word in English, cedar had become fixed to its biblical sense of Cedrus by the time of its first recorded usage in AD 1000.

The name "cedar" has more recently (since about 1700) been applied to many other trees with scented wood (in some cases with the botanical name alluding to this usage). Such usage is regarded by some authorities as a misapplication of the name to be discouraged.

References

Search another word or see cedaron Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature
FAVORITES
RECENT

;