Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cedar roses

I was walking Jack one morning, and down at one end of my street, I noticed that in a clearing beneath a tree, the ground was littered with needles and fan-shaped brown bits, and some things that looked like wooden rosettes.

I put some in my pocket and brought them home. Here's how they look, close up:

They look like roses. Charming shapes, you could use them in crafts.

Next time I walked out there, I looked up at the tree. There were cones up in the branches, but they were bigger, barrel-shaped; not like the roses. What was the story? I took pictures of the needles and bark, and started to research.

This is a Deodar Cedar tree - native to the Himalaya, while its cousins the Atlas Cedar, the Lebanon Cedar, and several others are native to the Mediterranean region. There are at least three growing on my street. These are true cedars, prized for their fragrant and insect-repelling wood. They are magnificent and beautiful trees, regaled in the Bible and in Greek and Arab lore
The Lebanon Cedar is a powerful symbol of nationalism, and appears on the flag of Lebanon.

Like their kin, Deodar Cedars have clusters of short needles, glaucous blue or bright green. Their branches droop gracefully at the ends. They have two kinds of cones - male cones which produce pollen, and female cones, which produce seeds.

The female cones of the Deodar Cedar are barrel-shaped, like the ones I saw up in the branches, but after a year, they disintegrate, falling apart to release the wing-shaped seeds. What remains at the end, falling to the ground, are these last seeds clinging together, like a wooden rose.

The specific epithet and English vernacular name derive from the Sanskrit devadāru, "wood of the gods", a compound of deva (god) and dāru (wood). The Deodar is worshiped as a sacred tree by those of the Hindu faith, and is the national tree of Pakistan.

The Deodar is prized for its aromatic wood, which is used to make incense, and essential oils derived from its wood and resin. Indian Ayurvedic medicine uses it as a curative for digestive disorders and also for curing skin diseases. Its fresh scent is important in aromatherapy.

They're beautiful trees here in Topanga, and they seem to thrive in our Mediterranean-type climate - and leave us their little cedar roses.


JCK said...

G, so fun for me that you researched this, and found out that the Deodars are related to the Cedars of Lebanon. I think I told you that I lived in Lebanon for several years as a child. And...we have a mile long stretch of Deodars here in Altadena. They are lit up at Christmas time - called Christmas Tree Lane. They are more than 80 years old, and have gorgeous limbs that stretch toward each other to make a lovely canopy when you drive up the street.

Tristan Robin said...

what a wonderful discovery

I love those rosette cones!

Sue said...

I love it when I learn something new. You certainly could do something with them. Maybe a little white glitter and put them in a bowl for a "winter" look?


cactus petunia said...

I've picked up lots of those. Haven't figured out what to do with them yet, though...Thanks for the info on the name!

Gilly said...

How beautiful, and what an interesting post! I din't know all that about cedras, though I did know about them being aromatic and keeping moths off as clothes chests used to be made of cedar wood in the middle ages, if you were wealthy enough.

mo.stoneskin said...

Those things are so beautiful. You could paint one red, seal the paint and then use it as a gift.

Kate said...

Lovely pictures and nice to know the names

Vallen said...

While I love the cedar roses that I gather both at work and at home, I curse the yellow "dust" that covers my car almost year 'round from the cedar pollen both at work and at home.

Nikki - Notes of Life said...

Blimey, they do look like roses! I've never seen cones quite like that.

Anonymous said...

Those cedar roses are lovely!
The smell of cedar is unforgettable.

Unknown said...

I am making flower arrangements using the cedar rose ! They are absolutely beautiful!

Unknown said...

I am making flower arrangements using the cedar rose ! They are absolutely beautiful!