Cedar’s seasonal links
Iwrote about the characteristic strawberry tree during National Tree Week in late November and I am now writing about a tree which has many strong links to this festive season – the cedar (right). Cedars belong to the pine family, they are evergreen with tough needles set in clusters or rosettes on short shoots, unlike the rows of needles on a shoot of the familiar pines. Cedars flower in September, which is unusual, and it takes two years for the female pine cones to ripen. The cones are barrel shaped and are squatlike with big broad flat scales. The saplings can take up to 40 years before they flower and can live for 500 years. Cedar wood has a rich brown colouration and a fragrant scent, popular as an insect repellent. It generates a fragrant oil that makes it durable and the oil is distilled for use in perfumes. The wood was frequently used for building of temples and palaces in the Middle East and the landscape was changed over the centuries as the cedar woods were cut down to supply demand. One type of cedar tree, the Cedar of Lebanon, was brought into Britain in 1638 and became a favourite in parklands and churchyards. Two other cedar species to be found in Britain are the Atlas cedar and the Deodar which have different structures to the tree and with slightly different cone shapes, although they retain the distinct barrel shape. A merry Christmas and a happy new year to everyone, and thanks for all the emails, letters and queries over the year.