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Deodar cedar

Cedrus deodara is the national tree of Pakistan. The name deodar comes from the Sanskrit word 'devdar', which means 'timber of the gods' – several Hindu legends refer to this tree.

Quick facts

  • Scientific name: Cedrus deodara
  • Family: Pinaceae
  • Place of origin: Himalaya region
  • Conservation status: least concern
  • Date planted: unknown
  • Height: 22 m

About Kew's deodar cedar trees

The deodar cedar is one of three cedars found in the British Isles along with the Lebanon cedar (Cedrus libani) and the Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica). The deodar cedar is distinguished from these other cedars by its drooping branches – we have all three planted close together at Kew so you can easily observe the difference.

Take a closer look

  • All trees in the genus (group of closely related species) Cedrus have needle-like leaves arranged in rosettes on the shoots. Another tree with this characteristic is the deciduous conifer, the larch.
  • The deodar cedar produces flowers less frequently than other cedars, and the cones – upright cylindrical buds with a pinkish colour -are often only seen on branches or trees with no males.
  • Deodar cedar cones can grow up to five inches in length and, like other cedar cones, are barrel-shaped. They take a year to mature at which point they disintegrate, shedding their seeds and leaving a central spike on the branch.

 

Tree biology

The male flowers are cylindrical buds that sit upright on branches and change from green though pink to purple before shedding their pollen at the end of October. The female flowers are pale green to begin with before turning brown and becoming woody cones. These can grow up to 20 cm in length and, like other cedar cones, are barrel-shaped. They take a year to mature at which point they disintegrate, shedding their seeds and leaving a central spike on the branch.

Cultivation and uses

In its native Himalaya, the deodar cedar is an important source of timber. The wood is strong, durable and fragrantly scented and as it has religious associations is typically used for construction in temples and palaces. It is also used for more mundane purposes such as for railways sleepers and in bridges.

Deodar cedar was introduced to Britain in 1831 and soon became a favourite as an ornamental tree in large gardens and parks. However within a few decades it was being planted as a forest tree with the intention of using it commercially. But the experiment was not successful as the British climate does not enable the deodar to grow to anything like its full potential as it can in its native Himalaya.

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Comments

25 October 2013
I had cause to remember,when recently recalling memories for a younger cousin, the Deodar [pines, as we called them] Cedars which grew all around our family home in South Africa, presumably planted by my maternal great grandmother sometime in the latter half of the 19th Century. Our home was situated on one of the spurs of the Dragensberg mountain range, at circa 4,000 ft an environment that must have been eminently suitable, because they were sturdy, tall, great trees and very much part of 'home'. Only today, after some 73 years I typed in 'Deodar Pine' and discovered that they were indigenous to the Himalayas and truly 'the Trees of the gods'. Thank you Kew for your useful and informative site. I am more accustomed to using Kirstenbosch for reference.
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