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A Lebanon cedar is an evergreen tree native to the Middle East, particularly Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. In these countries, it grows mainly in areas of high altitude. The tree has historically been used in Egyptian tombs. The wood was also used in building the temple of King Solomon, featured in the Old Testament version of the Bible.
This tree can grow to be up to 130 feet (39.65 m) high. Its trunk can be as much as 8 feet (2.44 m) in diameter. Its canopy can spread anywhere from 30 to 40 feet (9.15 to 12.2 m) in width. The roots are normally around a foot (.3 m) deep in the soil.
The foliage of a Lebanon cedar is typically dark green, but may sometimes appear to have a bluish tint. The branches of this tree alternate between being long and short. Its needles run along the sides of the longer branches, but are found in clusters on shorter ones. Each needle may be anywhere from 1/4 to 1 inch (.64 to 2.54 cm) in length.
The cones of this tree are usually produced every other year. They are typically light or medium brown in color, and can be from three to five inches (7.62 to 12.7 cm) in length. They can also be up to 2 and 1/2 inches (6.35 cm) wide. The male cones are normally in somewhat of an S-shape, while the female cones are typically round.
The Lebanon cedar tree has had a number of uses throughout history. For instance, the wood of this tree has been used in making military ships, homes, and temples. Ancient Egyptians are believed to have taken the resin from it and used it in mummification, a system of preserving and wrapping of the deceased. During Biblical times, Lebanon cedar wood was used to treat leprosy, a contagious skin disease, as well as to build palaces. This species is mentioned over 70 times in the Bible, partly due to the importance of the tree to the people of the Middle East during the Old Testament era.
The versatility of this species may have led to massive deforestation over a period of several centuries. It is estimated that only a small percentage of the ancient Lebanon cedar forests remain. There are a number of efforts underway to preserve the remaining trees, and to plant new ones. These measures can ensure the beauty of these natural wonders can be enjoyed for many years to come.