IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) is native to the eastern Mediterranean region, including Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria (Choukas-Bradley 1987; Bird 1994; Kurt et al. 2008). It is more widely planted as a highly regarded ornamental (Dirr 1998). Lebanon Cedars have a thick, massive trunk and very wide-spreading branches, the lower ones sweeping the ground. The dark green, densely packed leaves are borne in horizontal tiers. Young trees are slender pyramids, but become flat-topped as they mature. A typical 10-year-old specimen would be around 6 meters tall; after 40 to 70 years, it might reach 12 to 18 meters, but these trees can grow to a maximum size of about 23 to 37 meters in height with a 24 to 30 meter spread. (Bird 1994; Dirr 1998)

The Lebanon Cedar (Cedrus libani) resembles a number of other Cedrus cedars. Cedrus deodara has pendulous leading shoot and branch tips (i.e., the entire new shoot gently droops), whereas C. libani has upright, stiff leading shoots, occasionally with just the branch tips drooping. Cedrus atlantica has densely pubescent (downy) blue leaves, whereas C. libani has glabrous (smooth) or sparsely pubescent green leaves. (Choukas-Bradley and Alexander 1987; Cope 2001)

The natural habitat of Cedrus libanii in the mountains of Lebanon has been substantially impacted by humans over centuries. Intensive logging for ship building and construction, as well as land-clearing for agriculture, were recorded as early as the 3rd millennium B.C. Vanishing forests were already mentioned during the 1st century B.C. and depletion of these forests has continued. It is now estimated that the current 2,000 hectares of patchy cedar forests found in Lebanon are the remnants of more than 500,000 hectares of post-glacial forest. In Turkey, cedar forests cover almost 110,000 hectares and occur primarily in the Taurus mountains, the steep slopes of which have somewhat sheltered its forests from overexploitation and extirpation. (Fady et al. 2008 and references therein)


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