The majestic Deodar or Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus deodara) The large, majestic Deodar Cedar tree in the Cemetery will soon be ready to release pollen from the male cones, which, from a distance, look like small upright candles fixed to the branches, giving an impression of a decorated Christmas tree.
However, look higher up and you will see the much larger female cones which, when fertilized by the pollen, will become seeds.
The Deodar Cedar is a pine tree and as such has no flower or fruit. The ovule (and later the seed) are wedged between the scales of the woody ‘cone’ so named because it is generally cone-shaped. The female cone structure varies markedly between the different conifer families, and is often crucial for the identification of many species of conifers – do go and gaze up at the female cones in the cemetery to see their very characteristic barrel shape and size (below). These female cones will persist on the tree for 2–3 years before disintegrating and shedding their seeds.
The Deodar Cedar was first introduced to British parks and gardens from its native home in the Western Himalayas in 1831 and is cited by the Scottish plant collector, George Don, in his seminal botanical publications. The cemetery’s fine specimen is located at the junction of the northern and central circle paths. In addition to its cones, the tree has unusual pendulous branches bearing clusters of long needle like leaves covered with a bluish-grey ‘bloom’ which turn deep green as they age.
The name ‘deodar’ is thought to be derived from the Sanskrit terms ‘deva’ meaning deity and ‘daru’ meaning tree. The deodar is considered divine by Hindus. The durable timber was the wood of choice for building temples while the inner aromatic wood was used for incense. Surprisingly it can also be grown as a bonsai specimen.
Cedrus deodara trees can live to 1000 years. The Cemetery specimen is probably about fifty years old and, as well as looking magnificent, provides nesting sites, food and cover for birds and mammals.