Cedar of Lebanon - Cedrus libani

Cedar of Lebanon - Cedrus libani

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Cedrus libani is an evergreen conifer with imposing size originating from Asia Minor. It has slow growth and can reach 30-40 meters in height; the bark is dark and rough, the needles are short, dark green, and sprout gathered in tufts that also count 20-30. The young specimens have a dense, pyramidal crown, with branches that tend upwards; with age this plant tends to take on an umbrella shape and the branches take on a horizontal position. In spring the cedrus libani produces large erect pine cones, with the tip flattened; the seeds are similar to flakes and ripen at the end of summer.

Cedar of Lebanon

The Cedar of Lebanon is a species of Cedar native to the mountainous areas of the Mediterranean basin and more particularly of Asia Minor, Lebanon and south-western Turkey. In general, they are conifers belonging to the Pinaceae family, very ornamental and majestic.
This family includes: the cedar of Lebanon, the cedar of the Atlas, the cedar Deodara and the cedar of Cyprus. Some texts consider these last three subspecies of the first. Other texts, on the other hand, consider them to all intents and purposes separate.

Family, genus and species
Pinaceae, gen. Cedrus Libani
Type of plant Tree, conifer, with persistent leaves
Exposure Sun
Rustic Quite rustic
Ground Rich, soft, well-drained
colors White flowers (or pink in ornamental varieties)
Irrigation Usually not necessary
Composting Annual with soil improvers
Propagation Seed, graft
Cones Purple-green, then brown, upwards
Pests and diseases Rottenness, rameal cancers, cedar aphid


these conifers love sunny positions, but they grow without problems even in partial shade. They do not fear the cold or the winds. They do not need watering, as they tolerate drought without problems, so they are satisfied with the water provided by the rains. Because the young specimens tend to branch a lot, also giving rise to very weak branches, it is advisable to prune the weak branches in the spring, to promote the strengthening of the others. This conifer, in its habitat of origin, is a dominant plant. This means that it becomes much higher than the essences that surround it and having greater access to light. We must therefore ensure that we also have a well-lit and possibly quite open area so that when it reaches maturity it can begin to expand parallel to the ground.


This conifer can reach 40 meters in height. The specimens have an expanded cone shape. Over time, however, they tend to lose their tip and take on an expanded column shape, characterized by beautiful wide and flattened antlers supported by large branches. This makes it a plant of considerable size and easily recognizable.
The cedrus libani it has needle-like leaves, up to 3 cm long, from dark green to gray-blue. They are carried singly on the long branches, in dense whorls instead on the side branches, which have a slower growth.
The bark is dark gray and with time it tends to flake off in vertical plates.
It has male flowers ranging from green to blue, but yellow at the time of opening. The female flowers are yellow and erect, on separate clusters on the same plant, in autumn. The fruits, conical, have a shape very similar to that of a barrel and erect. They are about 12 cm long, purple-green and then, maturing, medium brown.


the cedar of Lebanon prefers sandy, poor, slightly acid soils, but being a very rustic plant it grows without problems in any soil, even basic and clayey. The cedar of Lebanon is well suited to all soils, but, since it is, in the more rainy areas, particularly subject to root rot, it would be better to insert it where there is a soft, well-drained soil with a slightly acid pH. If our substrate does not have these characteristics we can place it on the bottom of the hole, inserting a good amount of draining material.


The multiplication of cedrus libani occurs by seed, using the seeds of the previous year in spring.

Pests and diseases

The cedrus libani is attacked in particular by the aphid of the cedar, it also suffers from creeping cancers. These are generally resistant plants.
As we have said, however, one of the most frequent drawbacks is root rot. In general you can only try to prevent it with the right precautions at the time of planting. Should it occur anyway, you can try to distribute a good quantity of foseti-aluminum based product over the entire area covered by the foliage, possibly in granules.
The most widespread parasite of all is the Cedar aphid, Cinara cedars. They are gray-green insects that live on the new shoots stinging them. This causes necrosis that can extend to the whole branch and cause extensive defoliation.
A further damage derives from the secretion of honeydew that soils the leaves and branches. It also causes fungal attacks and attracts other insects (such as ants).
It is possible to intervene by administering specific aficidi for this type of plants, bearing in mind that the period of greatest presence is between May and June.


Like all conifers, it does not need irrigation, especially if it is planted in areas that are not too dry. We will certainly have to intervene in the case of very hot and dry summers on very young or newly inserted individuals. It is advised, however, to avoid too frequent irrigations because they could cause root rot or asphyxiation which in these trees (usually with very superficial and enlarged roots) can cause sudden failures or eradication caused by wind and strong storms.


A good basic fertilizer is very important to ensure that the plant can develop quickly and recover from the trauma of planting. In that case it is good to place on the bottom of the hole abundant mature manure or organic fertilizers based on cornugh or bone meal.
Later it will be good to enrich the subsoil by covering the foot of the plant during the autumn with organic soil improvers. These, penetrating you, will make the soil more aerated and able to host bacteria that, living in symbiosis with the roots, will make the micro and macro elements easier to access.


Generally these conifers do not require periodic pruning. Instead, maintenance interventions may be necessary in order to eliminate dead or sick branches. Beyond this it is good to limit operations as much as possible because the plant will grow autonomously with its own balance. In this regard it is emphasized that in any case they will become large trees. It is good to evaluate this aspect before inserting a Cedar of Lebanon in our garden. We will be able to enjoy their beauty to the fullest only if they can grow freely. We do not plan to insert them, perhaps near a house, and then to intervene continuously with pruning. This will do nothing but spoil its natural appearance as well as being a vehicle for diseases.


The cedar of Lebanon is rather resistant to cold. It can withstand temperatures up to -20 ° C. Below this limit (and even above it, especially in the presence of wind) it could be damaged. Of course the most vulnerable subjects are young plants and perhaps in pots.
It is therefore advisable, especially if we live in the North or in mountainous areas, to cover the trunk and foot (and possibly the vase) well with insulating material at least during the first 3 years of life and certainly the first year after planting.


Specialized nurseries tend to reproduce plants by cutting (in November) or even by gamica. At home level, and perhaps for the production of bonsai, it is possible to try to obtain a specimen by sowing. It is also not difficult to find the seeds for sale at some specialist retailers. If we want to procure them for ourselves, we must know that the cones must be found during the winter and then kept at a temperature of about 20 ° C: as a reaction they will tend to open and we can extract the seeds. They should be placed in jars containing a rich, but light and well-drained substrate to avoid root rot. They can be kept outside and usually germinate in the spring. As soon as they are seen they can be transplanted and placed in a sheltered place where they must be kept for at least three years. They are in fact very sensitive to cold temperatures and wind.

History of customs and traditions

The cedar of Lebanon has been a fundamental tree for many different civilizations. Its wood was used by the Phoenicians for the construction of ships for commercial or military purposes. It was also fundamental for the construction of houses, palaces and temples. Its very fragrant resin was used for the embalming process by the Egyptians. It is a tree celebrated by three important religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. The prophet Isaiah used the Cedar of Lebanon as a metaphor for pride and hope and his wood was used for the construction of sacred buildings such as the Temple of King Solomon in Jerusalem and the Palace of David and Solomon. The forests of these conifers in Lebanon and Turkey were exploited by many civilizations: Greeks, Romans, Babylonians and Persians. Thus there was an ever greater deforestation and today very little remains of the extensive populations of those times.
The most visible impact was in Lebanon and on the island of Cyprus. In recent years, however, especially in Turkey, there is a serious project to revive those forests. More than 50 million young cedars have been planted. The Lebanese population is also returning to expand thanks to a program that combines the protection of historical populations from pests, goats and fires and the planting of new specimens. As we know this tree is present on the flag of Lebanon and is its national symbol. Unfortunately, as a result of a long period of exploitation, it can be said that very few thousand-year-old trees remained on that territory. This nation is aiming at the same time for the regeneration of the woods and the preservation of the old specimens. Numerous reservations have been created with this primary purpose in mind. Perhaps the most famous is the "Forest of the Cedars of God" near Bsharri.

The wood

The resulting wood is massive and resistant, as well as very aromatic. It is also used in herbal medicine: the leaves and bark can be used for expectorant and antiseptic purposes, as they contain abundant volatile oil. The glycerine macerate of the buds is used to fight psoriasis as they stimulate the regeneration of skin tissue. The bark decoction is traditionally used as anti-catarrhal and antibronchial thanks to its strongly balsamic aroma.

Cedar of Lebanon - Cedrus libani: In Europe and in Italy

In our continent this tree arrived only at the end of the 1700s. In Italy the first specimens were inserted in Tuscany at the beginning of the 1800s. Currently some specimens can be enumerated that can be defined monumental. You can admire two beautiful cedars in Ferrara, with a diameter of about 15 meters. Others of considerable size can be found on the island of La Maddalena, in Campobasso, in Como and La Morra, near Alba (Cuneo).
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