DEODAR, HIMALAYAN CEDAR
Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) G. Don
If one travels from the usually hot and dry lowlands of northwestern India to the higher slopes where the resort town Shimla is located, the first deodar trees around 1600 m mark the belt of the temperate-subtropical zone. Here begins and upward continues "deodar country" with a climate quite pleasant throughout the year (although from 2800 m up the winters are snowy), and one can travel hundreds of kilometers in the region where cedar trees occur in the most diverse environments, in a variety of plant associations. The tree will be locally found as high as 3500 m. A majestic plant, in its native habitats often solitary, multistemmed, with a massive trunk reaching several meters in diameter (up to 4.5 m recorded as the maximum). It is also a divine tree; as is well known, 'deodar' comes from the Sanskrit devadaru, "wood of the gods", or as similarly explained by local guides in Himachal Pradesh, NW India, the "tree where God dwells'. It is often solitary in the steep rocky slopes, since adequate amounts of soil where the plant can make a good-size tree are scarce in such circumstances (as pictured in the Baspa valley, shown in Conifers Around the World, page 237). Small depressions where trees can establish in the rugged mountains are often inhabited by a group of cedars, similarly observed in other tree species that occur in small pockets in such environments. The old deodars quite often have several trunks, making a picturesque appearance and adding beautifully to the grand landscape with high peaks of 5 to 6 thousand meters. – Cedrus deodara is also a widely used landscape plant long cultivated in the temperate and subtropical zones worldwide. In the last decades a number of cultivars have been selected that may survive severe winters reportedly down to -30 degrees Celsius. Some beautiful old trees have been observed in the Kyoto Botanical Garden, Japan (vertical habit photos below), which exemplify the popularity if this tree in eastern Asia.