Thursday, September 3, 2015

Cedar of Lebanon

Cedar of Lebanon at HNWR, 2014 (Refuge file photo)

By Jack Chiles

I have been observing this tree at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge on an almost weekly basis for the last 25 years. Planted in 1916, this tree has been in its death throes for quite a few years. Several years ago it produced a huge crop of cones and I remember a botanist from Maryland, Zeeger DeWilde, stating as we drove by and observed the tree that it was on its way out and that dying trees of this type often produce a lot of cones when they are near the end of their life. 

Green tips, Spring, 2015 (Photo by Kathy Whaley)

As to the specie of the tree, that has been brought into question by Karl Haller a naturalist who led bird tours on a weekly basis at the refuge for more than 50 years. He feels that it is possibly a Deodar Cedar, a tree of Afganistan and the Himalayas because the lower branches grow down and then gracefully turn up.  

I am including an excerpt about the Cedar of Lebsnon and the Deodar Cedar that I found on line.
Deodar cedar, or just deodar, is known botanically as Cedrus deodara and is used in the landscape along with Cedrus libani, or cedar of Lebanon, and the Cedrus atlantica, or Atlas cedar. Deodars can reach more than 150 feet tall, but we typically see them maturing in the 50- to 70-foot range after 30 to 40 years. Lower branches bend gracefully downward and then up again. The stiff, needle-like, silvery blue green leaves are about 2 inches long and borne in dense whorls.

When you think Afghanistan, plant material is probably not the first thing to come to mind. Yet this is precisely where one our landscape’s most elegant and beautiful trees originates. The tree I am referring to is the deodar cedar, and to be honest it is not just from Afghanistan but the Himalayas as well.
The flood waters did not reach this tree, although it is possible that the 50 + inches of rain received in the spring did not help it any. Karl Haller told me that he once saw a Golden Eagle perched in the top of this tree. Golden Eagles used to be seen here years ago. Over the years we have seen a lot of different birds perched in this tree using it as a lookout point. It will be sad to see this old friend gone. Hopefully the woodpeckers will still get several years of use from it. I am not aware of any plans to replace it.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your article, Jack, and your research. Was there an attempt to harvest seeds from the cones?