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Cedar of Lebanon

King Solomon's Temple was built with timber from the cedar of Lebanon. The Egyptians used its resin to embalm their dead and sawdust of the tree is said to have been found in the pharaohs' tombs.
Cedar of Lebanon

About Kew's cedars of Lebanon trees

At Kew there are many cedar of Lebanon trees, easily recognised by their huge size and spreading, horizontal branches. The Princess Walk specimens date from the late 1770s, at which time they were a fashionable accessory for every estate. There are now more at old country houses – including Kew – than in the wild.

Take a closer look

  • Three closely related cedar species are found in the Gardens. To tell the three species apart, look at their shape. Atlas cedar branches ascend, Deodar cedar branches descend, and cedar of Lebanon branches are level.
     

Tree biology

The cedar of Lebanon is one Britain's most recognisable and oldest tree imports. It’s mentioned in the Bible 76 times – more than any other tree.

It can grow up to 40 m tall and produces seed cones only every second year. These cones are hard and woody with the seeds tucked between scales. Unlike pine (Pinus) cones, cedar (Cedrus) cones break up when they are ripe.

Cultivation and uses

Cedar of Lebanon wood was famously used as a building material in ancient times. It was used in King Solomon's palace and the Temple of Jerusalem; the Egyptian pharaohs used cedar wood for ships and temples.

This strong, durable wood has also been a favourite of furniture makers. The sweet smell made cedar of Lebanon chests of drawers and cupboards extremely popular in Victorian times.

Quick facts

  • Scientific name: Cedrus libani. It is named not after the country, but after the trees found on the slopes of Mount Lebanon in Syria. However, it does grow in Lebanon, which has a picture of the cedar on its flag.
  • Family: Pinaceae
  • Place of origin: Mediterranean gulf countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and parts of north Africa.
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Date planted: c. 1764
  • Height: 25.2 m