According to the guide’s commentary during a recent heritage walk around Cathays Cemetery in Cardiff, this magnificent Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) was planted when the cemetery first opened in 1859 so it is now more than 156 years old. It is, however, a mere teenager when you consider these cedars can survive for more than 1000 years!
As the name implies, the Cedar of Lebanon (also known as the Atlas cedar and Deodar cedar) is native to Lebanon, the eastern Mediterranean coast and parts of Asia Minor, where it has long had a special significance to the local people. Its resin was used by the ancient Egyptians in their mummification process; the Phoenicians used its timber for building ships, palaces and temples; and its wood was burned by Jews to celebrate the New Year. Nowadays, the tree features as the national emblem of Lebanon, adorning both its flag and its coat of arms.
In Britain, the Cedar of Lebanon was popular as a feature tree in the plantings surrounding stately homes and mansions from the mid-18th century onwards, as well as in later Victorian parks and cemeteries, like Cathays.