The Deodar Cedar, taken from the Sanskrit “wood of the gods”, is one of only a handful of true cedars in the world from the cedrus family. A native of the Western Himalayas from the mountains of Afghanistan to India and Pakistan, it is as beautiful as it is useful. Its wood is rot resistant and has a lovely grain that will hold a high gloss sheen and is used in many religious temples as well as traditional houseboats and railway cars. While the wood is extremely durable, it can be brittle and is not suited for delicate woodworking.
The oils and resins also have many uses including incense, household cleaners, and insect repellents. The oils are also known to have antifungal properties, so the wood is often used to build storage rooms for meat and spices.
In the US and Europe, the Deodar Cedar is mainly used in landscape situations that call for a large specimen evergreen. This stately tree will easily grow from 50-100 feet tall and attain a spread of 30-70 feet. In its native range it has been observed growing 150-200 feet. The shape is generally conical with graceful drooping branches, not as stiff or upright as its cousins the Atlas and Lebanon Cedars.
The needles are 1-3 inches long and originate in star like clusters from spurs lining individual branches. The color can be a blue-green to golden yellow depending on the seed source and cultivar. Many people choose the golden varieties to add a little color to their landscape. The seeds are stored in 4-6” high female cones resembling small beehives that break apart after about 12 months to disperse the small winged seeds. The cones are borne upright, unlike pines and spruces which hang downward.
Relatively resistant to most insect and disease pests, its major health issues are usually site or weather related. Like most evergreens, they do not tolerate wet soils, and they need lots of space above and below ground to thrive. Given the proper placement and care, the Deodar Cedar is a large, long-lived specimen that will earn its place in the landscape.