Cedars are very splendid trees and we have several in Dulwich.  They are evergreen conifers, members of the Pinaceae family.  In Dulwich, there are four different kinds: Cedars of Lebanon, Cedrus libani;  Atlas Cedars, Cedrus atlantica; blue Atlas cedars, Cedrus atlantica glauca; and lastly, the deodars, Cedrus deodora.

The name ‘cedar’ is given to many coniferous trees with aromatic timber which are not cedars.  True cedars have rosettes of thick side shoots on their branches and oval-shaped cones.  The most magnificent is the Cedar of Lebanon – King Solomon’ temple was built with their timber, the ancient Egyptians used their resin in the mummification process and it has been valued ever since, because of its insect-repellent quality.

Sadly, in Lebanon itself the trees are suffering from climate change – they need a cold winter.  The outline of the Cedar of Lebanon is very distinctive.  The foliage is in level planes with wide horizontal branches, ending in a broad dome.  It was brought to England in 1740 and graces the lawns of many of our great country houses.  There is a huge one at Audley End – the house visited by the Dulwich Society in October.  Two were lost in Dulwich Village in the 1987 hurricane, but there remains a fine one in Dulwich Wood Avenue,

The Atlas Cedar comes from the mountains of Algeria and Morocco.  The branches are ascending.  The blue Atlas Cedar is similar but the foliage is blue-grey.  There are examples of both near the end of the boardwalk in Dulwich Park.  The blue is a particularly beautiful tree and is planted in many gardens.

The deodar has drooping branches and comes from Afghanistan and the Himalayas.  It has bright green foliage and is a very elegant tree.  When old, it begins to look increasingly like a Cedar of Lebanon because the foliage droops less.  There is a splendid one in Park Hall Road.  There is a tree in Burbage Road  called a Japanese red Cedar, which is an example of a tree which is not a true cedar.  It is tall, narrow, conical-shaped tree with orange-brown bark, and therefore similar in appearance to a cedar.

Stella Benwell
Dulwich Trees Committee