What Tree? Deodar Cedar

What Tree? Deodar Cedar

Deodar cedar (Cedrus deodara)

Our tree of the month this month is a stately conifer native to the Himalayas. With its graceful branches and aromatic wood, the deodar cedar is now widely planted in temperate zones around the world and is a favourite among gardeners, landscapers and foresters. It is a large evergreen that can grow up to 40-50m in height and it bears a broad, conical crown. Its branches are long and sweeping, often drooping at the tips, giving the tree a soft, graceful silhouette. Its extensive root system helps in stabilising soil, making it useful for erosion control on the slopes to which it is native.

The deodar cedar holds a revered place in folklore and cultural traditions, especially in its native Himalayan region. The name “deodar” is derived from the Sanskrit words “dev” (god) and “dar” (tree), meaning “tree of the gods”. In Hindu mythology, the tree is associated with various deities and is considered sacred.

In ancient Indian texts, the deodar cedar is mentioned for its use in rituals and construction of temples and sacred buildings. Its wood is believed to possess spiritual qualities, often used in the making of idols and incense. In addition, the tree is a symbol of longevity and resilience, reflecting its enduring presence in the rugged landscapes of the Himalayas.

Appearance and Identification

Unlike other cedars (Atlas and Cedar of Lebanon) the tips of branches and apical leader (top of the tree) will have drooping tips. The tree can develop large, flat lower limbs (much like Cedar of Lebanon) in maturity.

The foliage of the deodar cedar is needle-like and arranged in dense clusters. The needles are bluish-green to silver-green, about 1 to 2 inches long, soft and slightly curved. The bark is dark grey and smooth when young, becoming fissured and scaly with age.

Deodar cedar needles

Deodar cedar bark

It is a wind-pollinated monoecious species (have the male and female reproductive organs in separate flowers on the same plant). The female cones are barrel-shaped, around 8-13cm long, and disintegrate when mature to release winged seeds. The male cones are smaller and shed their pollen in the spring.

Propagation and Control

Deodar cedars grow well in moist and well-drained soils, although they are also tolerant to drought. They flourish in full sun, preferring at least six hours of direct sunlight every day. They are generally hardy trees, only susceptible to a few pests and diseases. The deodar weevil is one such pest which bores into twigs and branches causing dieback. This can be controlled by targeted pruning.

Source and Reference Materials

Information detailed in this post has been obtained from the author’s own knowledge and photographic library where possible. Additional source of information and photographs include:

Van den Berk, B.V. (2004). Van den Berk on Trees. Van den Berk Nurseries.