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Cedar Tree Species

By Joan Norton ; Updated September 21, 2017
Just four species are recognized as true cedars.

Cedrus trees are sometimes called “true cedars” because there are so many cedar-type trees. They are a tall evergreen tree erect in growth. The bark on young trees is smooth and gray, becoming furrowed and dark gray with age. They form barrel-shaped seed cones similar to fir tree cones. Seed cones mature in one year. Four cedar tree species are recognized as true cedars.


Cedar is the common name for the Cedrus genus of coniferous trees in the plant family Pinaceae.They are characterized by spicy-scented, resinous wood. The origin of cedar species is in the Himalayas and the Mediterranean area. They thrive in altitudes between 1,500 and 3,200 feet. The four species of cedar are deodar, Lebanon, Cyprus and atlas.

Deodar Cedar

Deodar cedar trees grow to heights between 70 and 250 feet. They grow in a pyramid shape with a broad base sometimes reaching 50 feet wide. Deodar cedar wood is strong, rot-resistant and fine-grained. It has been used extensively to build religious temples in Pakistan and India, where it is considered a holy tree. Its oil and resin are used as medicine in the Ayurveda system

Lebanon Cedar

Lebanon cedar trees grow 40 to 50 feet in a pyramid shape that changes with age into a more open form. Their trunk can grow to 8.2 feet in diameter. The leaves are blue-green and needle-shaped, spaced out on long stem shoots. Cedars of Lebanon were important to Phoenician and Egyptian civilizations and are the current national emblem of Lebanon.

Cyprus Cedar

The Cyprus cedar tree is on the endangered list of species because of the conversion rate of forest to urban use on its native island of Cyprus. Like other deodar trees, the Cyprus cedar is evergreen with sharp needle-like leaves that grow in clusters. Cedar oil and resin are a natural repellent for moths. Cedar wood of all four types is used to line closets and chests where wool is kept.

Atlas Cedar

The atlas cedar is a medium-size species native to Morocco and Algeria. It is similar in shape and habit to the Lebanese cedar tree and is sometimes considered a sub-species. Its needles are bluish-green. Atlas cedar is commonly cultivated as an ornamental tree, grows well in temperate climates and is drought-tolerant.


About the Author


Joan Norton, M.A., is a licensed psychotherapist and professional writer in the field of women's spirituality. She blogs and has two published books on the subject of Mary Magdalene: "14 Steps To Awaken The Sacred Feminine: Women in the Circle of Mary Magdalene" and "The Mary Magdalene Within."