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Tree 50: Deodar Cedar

Latin name: Cedrus deodara
Family: Pinaceae
Other names: Deodar, fountain tree, Himalayan cedar, Indian cedar
Origin: West Himalayas and Afghanistan
Height: around 36 metres but can reach 65 metres in its native habitat
Lifespan: Some trees can thrive at 135 years old
Autumn leaf loss: Evergreen
Gender Type: Monoecious (Male and female flowers on same tree)

If you stand facing the Hall, the impressive evergreen to the left is a Deodar Cedar. The name Deodar is derived from the Sanskrit term devadāru, which means “wood of the gods”, a compound of deva “god” and dāru “wood and tree”. The Deodar was first introduced into Great Britain in 1831 and it was given the Royal Horticultural Society’s prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

The crown is conic and has a narrow spire-top with a drooping leading shoot. The upper branches are level or slightly depressed. Lower branches sweep gently down.

The male flowers are erect and in early October they are about 4cm long and are conic-ovoid grey-green turning pink. By the end of October, they become dark purple, 6 to 7 cm long and curved before shedding their pollen. The bright pale green female flowers are ovoid-cylindric, about 5 mm long and may have pink tips.

The bark is initially dark grey-green and smooth and later it becomes dark brown or black with small vertical plates of pale ashy grey.

Among Hindus, the Deodar is worshiped as a divine tree. It has been used to construct religious temples and in landscaping around temples. The Egyptians used the cedar’s wood to build sarcophaguses for their mummies.
The wood was seized on by the East India Company as the ideal building material for everything from barracks and public buildings, bridges and canals to the construction of the railways.

The inner wood is aromatic and used to make incense. The outer bark and stem are astringent. Cedarwood oil is also used for its aromatic properties, especially in aromatherapy and as a clearing oil in microscope work. The crude oils are often yellowish or darker in colour and are used to produce soap perfumes, household sprays, floor polishes, and insecticides. The gum of the tree is used to make rope incenses in Nepal and Tibet.

The Deodar Cedar is the national tree of Pakistan, and the state tree of Himachal Pradesh, India.