Plant Lore-Cedar

 Cedars in Shimla, India

CEDAR.—Numerous are the allusions made in the Bible to the Cedars of Lebanon (Cedrus Libani), the tree which Josephus says was first planted in Judea by Solomon, who greatly admired this noble tree, and built himself a palace of Cedar on Lebanon itself. The celebrated Temple of Solomon was built of hewn stone, lined with Cedar, which was "carved with knops and open flowers; all was Cedar, there was no stone seen." Since King Solomon's time, the Cedar forest of Lebanon has become terribly reduced, but Dr. Hooker, in [860, counted some four hundred trees, and Mr. Tristram, a more recent traveller in the Holy Land, discovered a new locality in the mountains of Lebanon, where the Cedar was more abundant. Twelve of the oldest of these Cedars of Lebanon bear the title of " Friends of Solomon," or the " Twelve Apostles." The Arabs call all the older trees, saints, and believe an evil fate will overtake anyone who injures them. Every year, at the feast of the Transfiguration, the Maronites, Greeks, and Armenians go up to the Cedars, and celebrate mass on a rough stone altar at

their feet. The Cedar is made the emblem of the righteous in

the 92nd Psalm, and is likened to the countenance of the Son of God in the inspired Canticles of Solomon. Ezekiel (xxxi., 3—9) compares the mighty King of Assyria to a Cedar in Lebanon, with fair branches, and says, as a proof of his greatness and power, that "the Cedars in the garden of God could not hide him." In the Romish Church, the Cedar of Lebanon, because of its height, its incorruptible substance, and the healing virtues attributed to it in the East, is a symbol of the Virgin, expressing her greatness, her

beauty, and her goodness. The Jews evidently regarded the

Cedar as a sacred tree: hence it was used in the making of idols. According to a very old tradition, the Cedar was the tree from which Adam obtained the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. The ancient legend relating how the Cross of Christ was formed of a tree combining in itself the wood of the Cypress, Cedar, and Pine, will be found under the heading Cypress. Another tradition states that of the three woods of, which the Cross was composed, and which symbolised the three persons of the Holy Trinity, the Cedar symbolised God the Father. Pythagoras recommended the Cedar, the Laurel, the Cypress, the Oak, and the

Myrtle, as the woods most befitting to honour the Divinity.

The Shittim wood of the Scriptures is considered by some to have been a species of Cedar, of which the most precious utensils were made: hence the expression Cedro digna signified "worthy of eternity." The Cedar is the emblem of immortality. The ancients'

called the Cedar " life from the dead," because the perfume of its wood drove away the insects and never-dying worms of the tombs. According to Evelyn, in the temple of Apollo at Utica, there was found Cedar-wood nearly two thousand years old; "and in Sagunti, of Spain, a beam, in a certain oratory consecrated to Diana, which had been brought from Zant two hundred years before the destruction of Troy. The statue of that goddess in the famous Ephesian Temple was of this material also, as was most of the timber-work in all their sacred edifices." In a temple at Rome there was a statue of Apollo Sosianus in Cedarwood originally brought from Seleucia. Virgil states that Cedarwood was considered to be so durable, that it was employed for making images of the gods, and that the effigies of the ancestors of Latinus were carved out of an old Cedar. He also informs

us that Cedar-wood was used for fragrant torches. Sesostris,

King of Egypt, is reported to have built a ship of Cedar timber, which, according to Evelyn, was " of 280 cubits, all gilded without

and within." Gerarde says that the Egyptians used Cedar for

the coffins of their dead, and Cedar-pitch in the process of embalming the bodies. The books of Numa, recovered in Rome

after a lapse of 535 years, are stated to have been perfumed with

Cedar. The Chinese have a legend which tells how a husband and

wife were transformed into two Cedars, in order that their mutual love might be perpetuated. A certain King Kang, in the time of the Soungs, had as secretary one Hanpang, whose young and beautiful wife Ho the King unfortunately coveted. Both husband and wife were tenderly attached to one another, so the King threw Hanpang into prison, where he shortly died of grief. His wife, to escape the odious attentions of the King, threw herself from the summit of a high terrace. After her death, a letter was discovered in her bosom, addressed to the King, in which she asked, as a last favour, to be buried beside her dear husband. The King, however, terribly angered, would not accede to poor Ho's request, but ordered her to be interred separately. The will of heaven was not long being revealed. That same night two Cedars sprang from the two graves, and in ten days had become so tall and vigorous in their growth, that they were able to interlace their branches and roots, although separated from one another. The people henceforth called these Cedars "The trees of faithful

love." Tchihatcheff, a Russian traveller, speaks of vast Cedar

forests on Mount Taurus in Asia Minor: the tree was not introduced into England till about Evelyn's time, nor into France till 1737, when Bernard de Jussieu brought over from the Holy Land a little seedling of the plant from the forests of Mount Lebanon. A romantic account is given of the difficulty this naturalist experienced in conveying it to France, owing to the tempestuous weather and contrary winds he experienced, which drove his vessel out of its course, and so prolonged the voyage, that the water began to fail. All on board were consequently put on short allowance; the crew having to work, being allowed one glass of water a day, the passenger only half that quantity. Jussieu, from his attachment to botany, was reduced to abridge even this small daily allowance, by sharing it with his cherished plant, and by this act of self-sacrifice succeeded in keeping it alive till they reached Marseilles. Here, however, all his pains seemed likely to be thrown away, for as he had been driven, by want of a flower-pot, to plant his seedling in his hat, he excited on landing the suspicions of the Custom-house officers, who at first insisted on emptying the strange pot, to see whether any contraband goods were concealed therein. With much difficulty he prevailed upon them to spare his treasure, and sue ceeded in carrying it in triumph to Paris, where it flourished in the Jardin des Plantes, and grew until it reached one hundred years of age, and eighty feet in height. In 1837 it was cut down, to make

room for a railway. According to the ancient Chaldean magicians,

the Cedar is a tree of good omen—protecting the good and overthrowing the machinations of evil spirits. M. Lenormant has

published an Egyptian legend concerning the Cedar, which De Gubernatis has quoted. This legend recites that Batou having consented to incorporate his heart with the Cedar, if the tree were cut the life of Batou would at the same time be jeopardised; but if he died his brother would seek his heart for seven years, and when he had found it, he would place it in a vase filled with divine essence, which

was to impart to it animation, and so restore Batou to life

Anpou, in a fit of rage, one day enters Batou's house, and slays the shameless woman who had separated him from his brother. Meanwhile Batou proceeds to the valley of Cedars, and places, as he had announced, his heart in the fruit of the tree at the foot of which he fixes his abode. The gods, not desiring to leave him solitary, create a woman, endowed with extraordinary beauty, but carrying evil with her. Falling madly in love with her, Batou reveals to the woman the secret of his life being bound up with that of the Cedar. Meantime the river becomes enamoured of Batou's wife; the tree, to pacify it, gives it a lock of the beauty's hair. The river continues its course, carrying on the surface of its waters the tress, which diffuses a delicious odour. It reaches at last the king's laundress, who carries it to his majesty. At the mere sight and perfume of the tress, the king falls in love with the woman to whom it belongs. He sends men to the vale of Cedars to carry her off; but Batou kills them all. Then the king despatches an army, who at last bring him the woman whom the gods themselves had fashioned. But while Batou lives she cannot become the wife of the king; so she reveals to him the secret of her husband's twofold life. Immediately workmen are despatched, who cut down the Cedar. Batou expires directly. Soon Anpou, who had come to visit his brother, finds him stretched out dead beside the felled Cedar. Instantly he sets out to search for Batou's heart; but for four years his search is fruitless. At the end of that period the soul of Batou yearns to be resuscitated: the time has arrived when, in its transmigrations, it should rejoin his body. Anpou discovers the heart of his brother in one of the cones of the tree. Taking the vase which contains the sacred fluid, he places the heart in it; and, during the day, it remains unaffected, but so soon as night arrives, the heart becomes imbued with the elixir. Batou regains all his members; but he is without vigour. Then Anpou gives to him the sacred fluid in which he had steeped the heart of his young brother, and bids him drink. The heart returns to its place, and Batou becomes himself again. The two brothers set out to punish the unfaithful one. Batou takes the form of a sacred bull.. Arrived at the Court, Batou, metamorphosed into the bull, is welcomed and feted. Egypt has found a new god. During one of the festivals he takes the opportunity of whispering into the ear of her who had formerly been his wife: "Behold, I am again alive—I am Batou! You plotted and persuaded the king to fell the Cedar, so that he might occupy my place at your side when I was dead. Behold, I am again alive—I have taken the form of a* bull!" The queen faints away at hearing these words; but speedily recovering herself, she seeks the king and asks him to grant her a favour—that of eating the bull's liver. After some hesitation, the king consents, and orders that a sacrifice shall be offered to the bull, and that then he shall be killed; but at the moment the bull's throat is cut, two drops of blood spirt out: one falls to the ground, and forthwith two grand Perseas (the Egyptians' tree of life) shoot forth. The king, accompanied by his wife, hastens to inspect the new prodigy, and one of the trees whispers in the queen's ear that he is Batou, once more transformed. The queen, relying on the doting affection which the king entertains for her, asks him to have this tree cut down for the sake of the excellent timber it will afford. The king consents, and she hastens to superintend the execution of his orders. A chip struck from the tree whilst being felled, falls into the mouth of the queen. Shortly she perceives that she has become enceinte. In due course she gives birth to a male infant. It is Batou, once more entering the world by a novel incarnation I"
Plant lore, legends, and lyrics: Embracing the myths, traditions ...
By Richard Folkard


(1) Prospero. And by the spurs pluck'd up

The Pine and Cedar.

Tempest, act v, sc. 1 (47).

(2) Dumain. As upright as the Cedar.

Love's Labour's Lost, act iv, sc. 3 (89).

(3) Warwick. As on a mountain top the Cedar shows,

That keeps his leaves in spite of any storm.

2nd Henry VI, act v, sc. 1 (205).

(4) Warwick. Thus yields the Cedar to the axe's edge,

Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle,
Under whose shade the ramping lion slept,
Whose top-branch o'erpeered Jove's spreading

And kept low shrubs from winter's powerful

wind. yd Henry VI, act v, sc. 2 (11).

(5) Cranmer. He shall flourish,

And, like a mountain Cedar, reach his branches
To all the plains about him.

Henry VIII, act v, sc. 5 (215).

(6) Posthumus. When from a stately Cedar shall be lopped

branches, which, being dead many years, shall after revive. Cymbeline, act v, sc. 4 (140) ; and act v, sc. 5 (457).

(7) Soothsayer. The lofty Cedar, royal Cymbeline,

Personates thee. Thy lopp'd branches

are now revived,

To the majestic Cedar join'd.

Ibid., act v, sc. 5 (453).

(8) Gloucester. But I was born so high,

Our aery buildeth in the Cedar's top,

And dallies with the wind and scorns the sun.

Richard III, act i, sc. 3 (263).

(9) Coriolanus. Let the mutinous winds

Strike the proud Cedars 'gainst the fiery sun.

Coriolanus, act v, sc. 3 (59).

(10) Titus. Marcus, we are but shrubs, no Cedars we.

Titus Andronicus, act iv, sc. 3 (45).

(11) Daughter. I have sent him where a Cedar,

Higher than all the rest, spreads like a Plane
Fast by a brook.

Two Noble Kinsmen, act ii, sc. 6 (4).

(12) The sun ariseth in his majesty;

Who doth the world so gloriously behold

That Cedar-tops and hills seem burnished gold.

Venus and Adonis (856).

(13) The Cedar stoops not to the base shrub's foot, But low shrubs wither at the Cedar's root.

Lucrece (664).

The Cedar is the classical type of majesty and grandeur, and superiority to everything that is petty and mean. So Shakespeare uses it, and only in this way; for it is very certain he never saw a living specimen of the Cedar of Lebanon. But many travellers in the East had seen it and minutely described it, and from their descriptions he derived his knowledge of the tree; but not only, and probably not chiefly from travellers, for he was well acquainted with his Bible, and there he would meet with many a passage that dwelt on the glories of the Cedar, and told how it was the king of trees, so that "the Fir trees were not like his boughs, and the Chestnut trees were not like his branches, nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty, fair by the multitude of his branches, so that all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God envied him" (Ezekiel xxxi. 8, 9). It was such descriptions as these that supplied Shakespeare with his imagery, and which made our ancestors try to introduce the tree into England. But there seems to have been much difficulty in establishing it . Evelyn tried to introduce it, but did not succeed at first, and the tree is not mentioned in his "Sylva" cf 1664. It was, however, certainly introduced in 1676, when it appears, from the gardeners' accounts, to have been planted at Bretby Park, Derbyshire (" Gardener's Chronicle," January, 1877). I believe this is the oldest certain record of the planting of the Cedar in England, the next oldest being the trees in Chelsea Botanic Gardens, which were certainly planted in 1683. Since that time the tree has proved so suitable to the English soil that it is grown everywhere, and everywhere asserts itself as the king of evergreen trees, whether grown as a single tree on a lawn, or mixed in large numbers with other trees, as at Highclere Park, in Hampshire (Lord Carnarvon's). Among English Cedar trees there are probably none that surpass the fine specimens at Warwick Castle, which owe, however, much of their beauty to their position on the narrow strip of land between the Castle and the river. I mention these to call attention to the pleasant coincidence (for it is nothing more) that the most striking descriptions of the Cedar are given by Shakespeare to the then owner of the princely Castle of Warwick (Nos. 3 and 4).

The mediaeval belief about the Cedar was that its wood was imperishable. "Hasc Cedrus, Ae sydyretre, et est talis nature quod nunquam putrescet in aqua nee in terra" (English Vocabulary—15th cent.); but as a timber tree the English-grown Cedar has not answered to its old reputation, so that Dr. Lindley called it "the worthless though magnificent Cedar of Lebanon."
The plant-lore & garden-craft of Shakespeare
By Henry Nicholson Ellacombe


When the fragrant cedar was cut for Solomon's temple and cunningly carved by artisans, the trees grew plentifully on Lebanon, but they are now disappearing there and everywhere because of the ruthlessness of men. As it was a tree of good fortune, much of its wood was demanded for figures of saints and gods—idols, in common term. The name,'' life from the dead,'' that it bore two thousand years ago, betokens it an emblem of eternity, but this name may have signified no more than that its oil drove insects from the tombs. Because of its preservative qualities, the Egyptians used it for mummy-cases, and it has proven wonderfully lasting, for carved figures of a supposed age of three thousand years have been taken from the burial places and may be seen in our museums.

In a Chinese tradition, the king of a country set his evil eyes on the wife of a faithful subject, whom he threw into prison on a baseless charge, to have him out of the way, and there the husband died of grief, while the unhappy woman flung herself from a height to escape the hateful attentions of the monarch. Even in death the twain were divided, by the king's order, but a cedar sprang from each of the graves, as if to reprove and lament his wickedness, and, rising to a vast height, interlaced their roots and branches. They were known as "the trees of the faithful loves."
Myths and legends of flowers, trees, fruits, and plants in all ages and in ...
By Charles Montgomery Skinner


(Cedrus Libani.')

The boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars."—Ps. lxxx. 10.

f HE cedar-tree of Lebanon is noticed in the Bible under the Hebrew name of Eres or ¿Eres. It is probable, however, that this name was also applied to other allied plants. The Arabs call the tree arz or ars. It is the Cedrus Libani of botanists, and belongs to the class Moncecia and order Monadelphia of the Linnean system, and to the natural order Coniferae or the Cone-bearing family, in which it is associated with the pines, firs, spruces, and larches.

In early times, the cedar appears to have grown abundantly on Lebanon, and to have proved its distinguishing feature. Hence it was called " the glory of Lebanon " (Isa. xxxv. 2 ; lx. 13). In various passages of the Old Testament, we read of the cedars of Lebanon sent by Hiram, King of Tyre, for the building of David's house, of the temple at Jerusalem, and of Solomon's house (2 Sam. v. 11 ; vii. 2, 7 ; 1 Kings v. 6, 8, 10 ; vi. 9, 10, 15, 16, 18, 20 ; vii. 2, 3, 7, 11, 12 ; ix. 11 : 1 Chron. CEDAR-TREE OF LEBANON. 23

xvii. 6 ; 2 Chron. ii. 8). Beams, boards, pillars, walls? floor, ceiling, throne, and altar of cedar are mentioned. This timber was employed in consequence of its superior quality. It is stated that Solomon " made cedars to be as the sycomore trees [sycomore fig-trees] that are in the vale (or in the low plains), for abundance" (1 Kings x. 27; 2 Chron. ix. 27). Travellers tell us that there are still numerous cedars on Lebanon. Dr. Hooker says that " Cedars are found on the mountains of Algeria, on the whole range of Taurus, and in the Kedesha valley of Lebanon. In the Kedesha valley the number of trees is about four hundred. They are of various sizes, from about eighteen inches to upwards of forty feet in girth." The cedar of Lebanon is a wide-spreading evergreen tree, from fifty to eighty feet in height, with numerous large horizontal branches. Ezekiel, when describing the cedar, speaks of its high stature, its top among the thick boughs, its multiplied boughs, its long branches, and its shadowing shroud (Ezek. xxxi. 3-9). The goodly cedars, or cedars of God, are mentioned in Ps. lxxx. 10, and excellent cedars, in Song of Sol. v, 15. Isaiah speaks of the cedars of Lebanon being high and lifted up (Isa. ii. 13); and of the tall cedars (xxxvii. 24). As the branches extended, so did the roots, and thus the tree was firmly fixed in the soil, and enabled to withstand the violence of storms. Hence the prophet Hosea says, " He shall cast forth his roots as Lebanon " (Hos. xiv. 5).
The watering of the roots by means of the streams of Lebanon is referred to by Ezekiel in the passage already noticed. The tree was distinguished for its exalted and vigorous growth ; hence it is singled out among those on which Solomon wrote : " He spake of trees, from the cedar-tree that is in Lebanon, even unto the hyssop [caper-bush] which springeth out of the wall " (1 Kings iv. 33). The righteous are represented as growing like the cedar-trees of Lebanon (Ps. xcii. 12); and Israel like the cedar-trees beside the waters (Numb. xxiv. 6). The wood of the cedar is reddish-white, and is easily worked. The tree yields a sweet-smelling resin, which is alluded to in Scripture as " the smell of Lebanon " (Song of Sol. iv. n ; Hos. xiv. 6).

It has been supposed that the cedar wood mentioned in Leviticus xiv. 4, and Numbers xix. 6, was the produce of a fragrant species of juniper plentiful in the desert, and growing in crevices of Sinai. The cedar-wood used for pencils at the present day is the produce of Juniperus bermudiana, a native of the West Indies. In some heathen countries species of juniper are used as incense on account of their fragrance. Pinus Halepensis and Juníperas excelsa grow along with cedars on Lebanon.

Cedar is also mentioned in the following passages :— 2 Kings xix. 23 ; Ezra iii. 7 ; Song of Sol. v. 17 ; viii. 9 ; Isa. ix. 10; xiv. 8; xliv. 14; Jer. xxii. 7, 14, 23; Ezek. xvii. 3, 22, 23 ; xxvii. 5 ; Amos ii. 9 ; Zech. xi. 1, 2.
The Plants of the Bible
By John Hutton Balfour

The meaning of trees: botany, history, healing, lore By Fred Hageneder">
Being inhabited by Ea, the Sumerian god of wisdom himself, the cedar became an important tree for oracles and prophecy

Sacred Cedar

Cedar Tree and concepts of Soverieignty, Reform and Rebirth