Cedar trees are among the different types of coniferous trees belonging to the Pine (Pinaceae) family. They are evergreen, with a luxurious growth of leaves on short side branches. Cedar trees normally grow on very high altitudes and in soils which retain moisture. There are different types of cedar trees that are found all over the Mediterranean and Himalayan mountainous regions.
Cedar trees are scientifically known as Cedrus. Different types of cedar trees are found in the mountainous regions, which have moist soil mixed with limestone. They grow well in an environment with abundant rainfall. Cedar trees are conical in shape, spanning approximately 50 feet in width, and growing up to a height of 30 – 40 feet.
About Cedar Trees
Cedar trees produce seeds that are clustered into conical shapes and emit a strong smell. They have flat sprigs that are full and dense, with yellow flowers blooming at the tip of the leaves. The leaves, shaped like needles, spread into four angles, growing on short side branches, and are colored silvery-blue or bluish-green. The cedar bark is usually reddish-brown in color. They have branches fanning out in all directions, and usually have split trunks.
These trees produce durable, red-colored wood, used mainly for construction purposes. Evidences from Egyptian history indicate that the ancient Egyptians used cedar sawdust in the process of mummification. During the middle ages, cedar wood was used for making ships, weapons, boxes, bowls and baskets, and the bark was used for making blankets, capes or costumes. In the mountainous regions, cedar is even used as firewood. Cedar wood produces a toxic, natural oil, that has a spicy smell and is poisonous to insects and animals. Cedar trees are used for decorative purposes too, such as bonsai trees or plants planted on the sidelines of streets.
Varieties of Cedar Trees
True cedars are of four different types, viz., the Atlas Cedar, the Cedar of Lebanon, the Deodar Cedar, and the Cyprian Cedar. All of these produce an extremely durable quality of wood.
Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica): Atlas Cedars grow in the form of wide pyramids that are filled with needle-shaped evergreen leaves, and are mostly found in North Africa. The Blue Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica ‘Glauca’), which has stunning silvery-blue leaves, is the most commonly planted species. This type is not suitable for street planting. These cedars grow well in temperate climate, as they are not cold-hardy.
Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani): Cedar of Lebanon is the most cold-hardy among the various cedar trees, and is equipped with a massive trunk, wide-spreading branches, and a dark-green foliage. There are minor morphological distinctions between Atlas Cedar and the Cedar of Lebanon, but these are not constant all over. The Cedar of Lebanon is an exceptional specimen amongst the whole Cedar family, however, it is not suitable for street planting.
Deodar Cedar (Cedrus Deodara): Deodar Cedar, also known as the Himalayan Cedar, is a pyramid-shaped tree with dense, soft-textured branches in a tiered, pendulum-like form. It has long leaves measuring between 2.5 to 5 cm. This type of cedar forms a bowed structure due to its low branches, which incline towards the ground. It is known by the striking shape it grows into, and interestingly enough, it is the fastest growing cedar tree.
Cyprian Cedar (Cedrus Brevifolia): The Cyprian Cedar is generally found in the mountainous regions of Turkey, Cyprus and Syria. This is a rare species of cedars, and can only be distinguished from the Cedar of Lebanon by the length of its leaves and the shape of its crown. The leaves of are smaller in length than those of the Cedar of Lebanon, and its crown is also umbrella-shaped as opposed to the pyramidal crown of the Cedar of Lebanon.
Besides these four kinds of True Cedars, there are some other coniferous trees which are termed as cedars but are not classified as True Cedars, although they bear significant resemblances with the former. These trees do not fall under the genus Cedrus. These include:
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus Virginiana): This one is found in the wilderness of the Eastern United States. Their needle-like younger leaves grow to become mature, scaly leaves. They bear bright greenish leaves, which turn into a pinkish hue during winter, and also impart a pleasant smell when crushed. The wood from this tree is used to make hedges or windbreakers. Varieties of Eastern Red Cedar include Canaerti, Blue Point Juniper, Burkii Juniper, Princeton Sentry, Emerald Sentry, Hetzii Columnaris and Keteleeri.
Oriental Arborvitae (Thuja Orientalis): Oriental arborvitae are found springing forth in the form of a small tree or even a small shrub. These trees usually develop from a dense and compact foliage to an open canopy. Their leaves are in the form of scaled needles, bright green in color. They are grown as a hedge, as they are easy to trim. The most common varieties include Bakeri, Blue Cone and Elegantissima.
Northern White Cedar (Thuja Occidentalis): The Northern White Cedar, also known as White Cedar, Eastern White Cedar or American Arborvitae, is used for landscaping. It has lustrous green, fragrant leaves, which cover the trunk from the ground to the sweeping branches. They have dark brown trunks, which makes them ideal to be used as a hedge. The most common varieties include: Affinity, Emerald, Sunkist, Hills Dark Green, Techny, Fastigiata, Nigra, Wareana Lutescens, Columnaris and Pyramidalis.
Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata): Western Red Cedar, also known as Great Western Arborvitae, Canoe Cedar, Pacific Red Cedar and Giant Red Cedar is found in the wilderness of the northwestern parts of the United States and Canada. It is usefully cultivated to form hedges and for screening. The leaves are scaly with a glossy green color, and are aromatic. The bark is reddish-brown, with foliage that turns brownish-bronze in winter. The more common varieties are: Atrovirens, Emerald Cone, Zebrina, Stoneham Gold, Green Giant and Fastigiata.
A good amount of choices are available as far as the variety of cedars is concerned. You can wisely and artfully choose one that fulfills your landscaping needs, and be happy with the shade, aroma and beauty that the cedar would lend to your garden / backyard for the rest of your life.