Cedrus brevifolia

Before getting to Taisha’s entry, a brief tech update: the software has been upgraded to the latest version for the weblog. We’re now waiting on a server upgrade, which should address the speed issues.

Taisha writes:

Today, we have two images of Cedrus brevifolia, or Cyprus cedar (image 1 | image 2). They were uploaded by one of the top contributors to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, andreas lambrianides@Flickr. Much appreciated, Andreas!

Cedrus brevifolia is a conifer species endemic to the Troodos Mountains of western Cyprus. Five natural stands of trees occur, with the majority of the individuals occurring in a single stand called Tripylos. In an area of 1.99km2 at Tripylos, over 240000 individuals have been counted. This species grows on igneous formations and occurs in pure stands, particularly at higher elevations, or in mixed stands with Pinus brutia, Quercus alnifolia, and Platanus orientalis.

Cyprus cedar can reaches up to 15-20 meters, with a diameter at breast height of 1-1.2 meters. Older trees tend to be flat-topped. The bark is pale greyish-borwn with fissures. The branches spread to form distinctive horizontal layers, and bear spirally-arranged leaves that spread radially. Upright cylindrical male pollen-cones are borne terminally on short shoots. These are a pale-brown when mature. Female seed-cones are also upright. These take two years to mature to a ripened grey-brown colour, at which point they become ovoid-oblong or barrel-shaped.

Cedrus brevifolia is only one of four species of Cedrus, or the true cedars (though some authorities consider Cedrus brevifolia to be a subspecies or variety of Cedrus libani). This genus has a disjunct distribution between those species around the Mediterranean Sea and the western Himalayas. In a study by Qiao et al. it was hypothesized that Cedrus has a high-latitude Eurasian origin. Fossils dating from the Paleocene to Pleistocene have been found in Russia Far East to western Kazakhstan, then across Europe to the central Sahara; the oldest fossils are found in the north.

With climatic oscillations throughout the Tertiary, there were many opportunities for taxa to disperse and subdivide. Qiao et al. propose that the genus’ present distribution in several isolated regions could have resulted from vicariance of southerly-migrated populations, followed by further fragmentation and dispersal. They also suggest that the ancestors of Mediterranean cedars might have reached southern Europe in the Miocene based on fossil evidence, and that it is very likely Cedrus migrated into North Africa in the late Tertiary. In addition, the authors also suggest that Cedrus likely did not arrive in the Himalayas until after the Miocene. This would have followed the formation of the Tibetan plateau. The biogeographers note that more fossil evidence is needed to determine the site of origin of Cedrus. The molecular clock estimation of Cedrus divergence times for the phylogeny they constructed was based on the earliest recorded fossil wood from the Paleocene, but the time values obtained could be younger than the real divergence times of the group (see: Qiao, C. et al. (2007). Phylogeny and Biogeography of Cedrus (Pinaceae) inferred from sequences of seven paternal chloroplast and maternal mitochondrial DNA regions. Annals of Botany. 100(3):573-580).

Cedrus brevifolia
Cedrus brevifolia

9 responses to “Cedrus brevifolia”

  1. Stephen Lamphear

    Awesome info — science, not seance!

  2. Helen McCall

    What a great looking Cedar! I wonder if there has been any attempt to introduce this plant into North American retail?
    I can see it fitting nicely in any number of landscapes.

  3. kate-v

    a beautiful tree!

  4. Wendy Cutler

    Helen, on a UBCBG forum posting, Ron B replied, concerning the cultivar Cedrus brevifolia ‘Trevoron’: “It’s among multiple Cedrus selections originating with W. Goddard in Victoria, BC. This one was introduced to the general trade by Iseli nursery in Oregon.”

  5. Ron B

    Cyprus cedar was being sold by North American nurseries by the late 1970s. One planted in Portland, Oregon during 1971 was 57 ft. tall by 1993. Both stock offered as the typical plant and as named cultivars has been presented by independent garden centers in the Pacific Northwest during later years.

  6. MichaelF

    Treatment as a variety of Cedrus libani (as Cedrus libani var. brevifolia Hook.f.) is correct; if given as a species, it leaves southwest Turkish and Lebanese populations of Cedrus libani as paraphyletic, with Turkish Cedar (Cedrus libani var. stenocoma) being more closely related to Cyprus Cedar, than it is to Lebanon Cedar Cedrus libani var. libani.

  7. Daniel Mosquin

    Thanks, Michael. I opted to follow Conifers.org’s approach when looking into this. Maybe I should have looked at some of the most recent publications.

  8. Connie Hoge

    Lumpers and splitters- I love it!
    Especially love this tree. Want one- so thanks for the leads.

  9. Denis

    Maybe “Cypriot Cedar” as the common name would avoid confusion with another conifer. But, a rose…the short, profuse needles have a wonderful visual effect in that second photo of it in the landscape.
    I have a Cedar of Lebannon that I purchased from Leach Botanical Gardens in Portland and planted the summer we purchased our property in Columbia County Oregon in 2004. It seems perfectly adapted to our climate here as I have never watered it after that first summer (it is about 150 meters south of the house and, consequently, the hose bib). It has gone from about waist high to probably 6-7 meters tall in that time. It has become a visual reminder of the passage of time as I look out from our bay windows.

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