Cedrus, first described in 1757 by Christoph Jacob Trew (1750-1773), is commonly known as cedar, a genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae. They are native to the mountains of the western Himalayas of Asia and the Mediterranean region of Europe, occurring at elevations of 5,000 to 10,500 feet (1,500 – 3,200 m) in the Himalayas and 3,200 to 6,500 feet (1,000 – 2,200 m) in the Mediterranean.
Both the Latin words cedrus and the generic name cedrus are derived from Greek κέδρος kédros. Ancient Greek and Latin used the same word, kédros 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 kédros 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.
Description. Cedar trees can grow to mature heights of 100 to 125 feet (30 – 40 m) (occasionally to 200 feet / 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, 0.3 to 2.4 inches (8–60 mm) long, arranged in an open spiral phyllotaxis on long shoots, and in dense spiral clusters of 15 to 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, 2.5 to 5 inches (6 – 12 cm) long and 1.2 to 3.2 inches (3 – 8 cm) broad, green at first maturing grey-brown, and, as in Abies, disintegrate at maturity to release the winged seeds. The seeds are 0.4 to 0.6 inch (10 – 15 mm) long, with a 0.8 to 1.2 inch (20 – 30 mm) wing; as in Abies, the seeds have 2–3 resin blisters, containing an unpleasant-tasting resin, thought to be a defence 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, 0.12 to 0.3 inch (3 – 8 cm) long, produced in late summer and shedding pollen in autumn.
Ethnobotany. Cedars are very popular ornamental trees, widely used in horticulture in temperate climates where winter temperatures do not fall below about −13°F (−25°C). The Turkish cedar is slightly hardier, to −22° (−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.
Cedar wood and cedar oil are known to be a natural repellent to moths, hence cedar is a popular lining for modern-day cedar chests and closets in which woolens are stored. This specific use of cedar is mentioned in The Iliad (Book 24), referring to the cedar-roofed or lined storage chamber where Priam goes to fetch treasures to be used as ransom. Cedar is also commonly used to make shoe trees as it can absorb moisture and de-odorise.
Timber of trees with similar names such as Western Red Cedar is frequently confused with genuine cedar.
The Cedar of Lebanon and to a lesser extent the Deodar have local cultural importance.
Attributed from: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia