Cedrus libani
cedar of Lebanon

Pinaceae (pine family)
Asia Minor

Cedar of Lebanon is closely related to Atlas cedar. Cedar logs, also pine and cypress, were transported in sailing ships from Byblos on the Lebanese coast to ancient Egypt, which lacked wood, and where attempts at transplantation had been unsuccessful. Later, a straight cedar road was cut through the mountains from Mount Lebanon to the sea, but by this time Byblos had been ruined by economic collapse in Egypt, and the Aramaean ports of Tyre and Sidon had taken over. King Solomon made himself a chariot of “the cedar which is in Labanon” (and still is today on the flag). Cedar was heavily used for construction, for example in Jerusalem in the Temple of Solomon. The cedar wood that the Israelites used in their wanderings in Sinai would have been a kind of juniper; certainly the ancient Roman cedrus was a juniper – its oil was used as a pesticide to preserve books. In his travels, Odysseus found both Circe and Calypso burning cedar for its fragrance.

Two groups of three are on the west side of Meyer Green. Their identification is disputed; they are thought to be C. atlantica. Two giants planted in 1927 stand guard at 345 Forest Avenue at Gilman Street in Palo Alto. These are disputed as well; they may be C. deodara. A more detailed investigation is needed. In the meantime, C. libani may be reliably enjoyed at the San Francisco Botanical Garden.

Name derivation: Cedrus – Latin name for cedar; libani – of Lebanon.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005. Notes on disputed identification and SFBG added (Sep 2016, SP).