27 March 2008

Himalayan Cedar — Cedrus deodarus

Thanks to Susan of Days on the Claise, the big tree in our yard is now no longer a mystery. Every sign points to it being a Cedrus deodarus — a Himalayan Cedar or Deodar Cedar — and not a Lebanon Cedar or a Turkish Cedar. (See the original topic with pictures of the tree by clicking this link.)

Here is one more piece of evidence. Earlier, I posted this scan of an image that I found in Taylor's Guide to Trees. It shows the cones of the Deodar Cedar.

A couple of day ago I was out during one of our (too rare) sunny periods and I took another good look at the tree in question. Lo and behold, up on a high branch, I spied some cones that I had never noticed before. I've never found one like them on the ground under the tree either, but here they are.

Cones on our Himalayan Cedar, taken at a zoom level of 15x

I think the existence of these cones pretty much seals the deal. I really had never noticed them before.

Here's what Taylor says about Cedrus deodarus:
A tree, up to 150 ft. (45 m) high in nature, reaching 80 ft. (24 m) as usually cultivated. Branch tips, including the leader, generally pendulous. Leaves dark bluish- or grayish-green, nearly 2 in. (5 cm) long, not very rigid. Cones 3-5 in. (7.5-12.5 cm) long, reddish brown. One of the most graceful of all evergreens. 'Shalimar', 'Kingsville', and 'Kashmir' are the hardier cultivars, possibly in descending order. Himalayas. Cones throughout the year...
Thanks, Susan. I really hoped the tree was a Lebanon Cedar after you explained the status attached to those particular conifers. But a cedar from the Himalayas is even more exotic-sounding, don't you think?

Now that that is done, what about this tree? I think of it as a Sapin bleu, or a Blue Spruce. Is it?

Sapin bleu ?

The tree in Taylor's Guide that most resembles this one is the Colorado Spruce, Picea pungens. Actually, I'm pretty happy calling this one by the names I mentioned above, whereas the Deodar Cedar was truly unidentifiable to me until this week.

And if we get this second tree a name, I have still another one to ask about!


  1. Ms. Oblivious checking in. I kept looking at your photos, thinking the tree looked familiar. As I was standing on the deck this morning a few synapses finally fired. We have a deodar cedar just like yours in our front yard. Nice to know what it's called.

  2. Hehehe. Does your tree have any cones on it? Do they ever fall to the ground? Mine don't seem to.

  3. Sorry Ken, but I'm not convinced that your Spruce is Blue (Picea pungens cv Glauca). I think it might be White (Picea glauca). The description of Colorado/Blue Spruce I have is of regular whorls of branches held horizontally. White Spruce is described as having branches that turn up at the tips. The pics in my book show a very neat, stiff tree as Colorado Spruce and a somewhat more freestyle and relaxed looking tree as White Spruce, although still clearly conical. Check the way the needles grow. White Spruce needles are 12-13cm long and spread out from the sides and top of the shoot leaving a parting below. Blue Spruce should have needles 20-30cm long, spread out around the shoot before curving up and forwards. White Spruce also has a strong unpleasant smell when crushed apparently. Once again, my impression is that these are closely related species, not easy to tell apart, and I am not an expert on conifers.
    Also, apparently Deodar female cones are unique amongst cedars in that they self destruct on the tree, just leaving the central spike, so you never get cones on the ground.

  4. Susan, there's something wrong with those needle length numbers. They can't be 20 to 30 cm long -- 30 cm is a foot! Maybe a decimal point was dropped -- the needles might be 2.0 or 3.0 cm long.

    I'll do some looking around on the Internet and also take a picture or two of the needles.

  5. those cones are gorgeous, and i bet they'd be yummy burned in a christmas fire. or in a bowl. or transformed into ANIMALS!


  6. PJ, those cone animales are pretty cool.

  7. You are right - I think there must be a mistake in the book text about the Blue Spruce needles. The picture in the book looks to me like it probably has quite short stiff needles - indeed everything about it seems to be stiff in the picture. It did vaguely waft across my mind that 30cm was very long, but the thought flitted out again and I didn't follow it up.


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