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Lebanese Cedar Trees: An In-Depth Look into History and Identification

Welcome to a fascinating exploration into the rich history and unique identification features of Lebanese Cedar Trees.

Our journey starts in the picturesque Stanmer Park, where the ancient Lebanese Cedar Trees stand as living testaments to a history that spans millennia. These towering trees, known scientifically as Cedrus libani, have a lineage that dates back to ancient cedar forests in Lebanon.

Quick Facts:

  • Common Names: Cedar of Lebanon or Lebanese cedar

  • Plant Family: Pinaceae (or pine family)

  • Scientific Name: Cedrus libani

Dive into the history of Lebanese Cedar Trees

When you arrive at Stanmer Park, you can see the first Lebanese cedar tree straight away, as its silhouette stands out among all other trees. There are several of these majestic trees here in Stanmer Park, most of them located directly behind the old manor house. They were planted here by Lord Pelham in the 1820s as a symbol of prestige, strength, and resilience. With their towering height and distinctive flat-topped crowns, these ancient trees create a captivating silhouette against the backdrop. These trees aren't native to England; they were introduced about 400 years ago from an ancient forest in Lebanon.

The history of the Lebanese Cedar is woven into some of the oldest known texts, including the Epic of Gilgamesh—a masterpiece from Mesopotamia. In this epic, the hero Gilgamesh ventures into the cedar woods, confronting demigods and immersing himself in the profound aura of these ancient trees.

The significance of the cedar forest extends to biblical references, where it's noted that the wood from these trees was used in the construction of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Today, this ancient forest still stands, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1981, and proudly depicted on the Lebanese flag.

Not all Cedars are true cedars

The term "cedar" can be a bit of a catch-all for various evergreen trees, and it doesn't always strictly adhere to botanical classifications. It is commonly used to refer to several species of trees that may not belong to the true cedar genus (Cedrus). The most notable examples are:

  • Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana): Despite its name, this tree is not a true cedar but rather a species of juniper. It's native to North America, but it has been planted in the UK for ornamental purposes. The Eastern Red Cedar is known for its aromatic wood and reddish-brown heartwood.

  • Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens): Belongs to the cypress family, planted in the UK for its aromatic qualities and attractive foliage.

  • White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis): Also known as Arborvitae, commonly used for hedging and ornamental purposes in the UK.

True Cedars:

  1. Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica): Native to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria, cultivated in the UK for ornamental purposes.

  2. Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani): Native to Lebanon, known for its historical significance, and occasionally planted in the UK.

  3. Deodar Cedar (Cedrus deodara): Native to the western Himalayas, cultivated in the UK for its graceful appearance.

Download our free Identification Guide:

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