This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
The Cedar of Lebanon is also well known to us from the accounts of travelers, who have observed it in its native forests, and from their descriptions we learn that it is there often a very different tree from that familiar to us in this country, being tall and straight, with horizontal branches, forming a beautiful cone.
" The peculiar glaucous hue so characteristic of the earliest imported Deodars is not only not constant in the species, being absent in many of the varieties which have already arisen in this country, und unquestionably not present in adult trees in a wild state, but it occurs in some states of the Cedar. It cannot, therefore, though it forms the most striking distinguishing mark by which the Deodar is ordinarily recognised, be regarded as anything more than a very striking instance of the amount of variation to which species are subject, unless we assume what no one, we think, would be inclined to do, that the true Cedar, as well as the Deodar, is a native of the mountains of northern India.
"We have purposely abstained from taking into consideration the geographical distribution of the two trees, as any argument founded on it would be inconclusive. It may, however, be noticed as corroborative of the view which we have been led to adopt, that the Deodar in India is exclusively confined to the western part of the Himalayan chain, and is especially abundant in the mountains of Kashmir, and that it extends thence into the mountains of Affhanistan. The hilly districts of eastern Persia are not, it would appear, sufficiently elevated for coniferous Vegetation, nor is there at present any reason to suppose that any species of Cedar exists in northern Persia, where there are very lofty mountain chains. Still bur knowledge of that country and of Armenia and Caucasus, is too limited to warrant our asserting that the Cedar does not grow there, while in Taurus we know thai the Cedar of Lebanon is indigenous.
"It ought also to bo born* in mind that among the trees which accompany the Deodar in northern India, there is a considerable number of European species. The Tew is plentiful in all parts of the Himalaya and the common Juniper, though more Alpine, has nearly as wide a range. The tree Juniper of India, too (J.excelsa), extends into western Asia, so that at least three species of Conifers are common to that and the Himalaya. The Walnut, which is one of the commonest forest trees all along the chain of northern India, is also indigenous in the Caucasian provinces, and a speeies of Oak extends from Spain, through western Asia, Persia, and Affhanistan, into the drier parts of the western Himalaya. The common Berberry may be cited as another instance of the extension of European speeies far East, and the list of trees and shrubs might, if space permitted, be considerably increased, while the number of herbaceous plants which are common to Europe and the mountains of India is Tory great." - T. T. in Gardeners Chronicle.
[This very able statement of the botanical arguments that may be employed to show the identity of the Deodar and Cedar of Lebanon as species, has been communicated to us by an experienced Indian friend, well acquainted with the former tree on its native mountains. The arguments that a botanist can produce in support of the opinion that the Cedar of Lebanon and the Deodar are varieties of one common species have been ably stated by our correspondent, who has, indeed, exhausted the subject in the form in which he has put it. But here, as in so many other cases, the question resolves itself into one of words. If it is maintained that these trees have descended from one common stock, in the lapse of ages, and are therefore specifically the same, we have nothing to object The negro and the white, the game cock and the jungle fowl, the lapdog and the bloodhound - the dog himself, indeed, and the wolf - have all, in turn, been pronounced by competent authority to be of identical origin; and we are very far from questioning the soundness of such opinions.
The same kind of reasoning which justifies such conclusions would undoubtedly lead irresistibly to the inference that the Scotch Rose, the Bog Rose, and the Gallic Rose, nay, even the China Rose itself have a common origin; for are they not traceable the one into the other by insensible gradations and innumerable intermediate forms ?
But although a wolf may be specifically the same as a Maltese spaniel, no one would, we imagine, feel inclined to confound the two, or to consider them strictly allied, except from a theoretical point of view. Such, we conceive, is the manner in which the Deodar question must be practically considered. Botanists may trace unsuspected resemblances; the differences by which the plants are popularly separated may be shown to be trifling and unimportant in the eye of pure science, but the fact remains that great differences do exist; and if they are permanent in a general sense, then the distinction of the two is unaffected. Let us see what counter-proofs can be produced in support of the essential (we will not say specific) differences of these two trees.
In the first place it is to be observed, that if the Cedar of Lebanon and the Deodar are sown in mixture, the seedlings are unmistakeably different One is green, stiff and erect; the other is glaucous and drooping. No one, we believe, ever saw a Cedar of Lebanon with its seedling stem turned downwards; no one a Deodar in any other state. This, then, is not a mere difference of color, but of physical constit tion. The two are as distinct, ad incunabilis, as negro and Cau-casian infants.
In advanced age, the difference is preserved; the Cedar of Lebanon may become glaucous, but it does not droop; the Deodar may become green, but it will not straighten its leader; the one is always stiff and massive, the other light and graceful.
According to Dr. ROYLE, the wood of the Deodar is particularly valued for its durability; and Major Madden quotes Baron Charles Hugel as one of those who eulogise "the incorruptible Himalayan Cedar, the invaluable Deodar." Without insisting too much upon these expressions, it is fair to remark that they are in no way applicable to the timber of the Cedar of Lebanon, which is soft and of little value in this country; Major Madden says that even on its native mountains it affords timber, little if at all superior to the course, softy warping wood of English specimens. POCOCES, who saw the Cedars on Lebanon itself in l744-5, asserts that their wood does not differ from White Deal in appearance, and is net harder. The specifie gravity of Deodar wood is reported to be 680, while that of Cedar of Lebanon is 613 (Madden).
If we look to the fructification, another striking difference is apparent In form the coues are no doubt similar; but those of the Cedar of Lebanon never separate the scales spontaneously, as far as we have observed, while the cones of the Deodar as constantly fall to pieces.
Such differences then, existing between these trees, we are unable to acqniesoe in their union under one specific name. That they are extremely unlike it admitted on all hands. The precise vslue of their differences is just as indeterminable as the word species is undefinable, and that point will probably be settled about the time when the circle shall hare been squared.
On Atlas is found a third Cedar, now called in our gardens the Silver Cedar, by some botanists Cedrus Atlantica. That plant, indeed, differs from the Cedar of Lebanon in little except color, in which particular it resembiee the Deodar. All that can be ascertained from an examination of detached fragments is, that its cones are not above half the size of a Cedar of Lebanon, Never-theless, M Decamine, one of the most experienced and judicious of French botanist) has just pronounced in favor of its being also a distinct species. We quote his words:
"M. P. Jamin, director of the nursery at Biskars, to whom I had applied for information con-earning the Atlas Cedars, writes, under date of December 17, 1852, that he has just returned from a journey of eighteen days to Baton, Lambessa, and the Peak of Tougour, taken for the express purpose of obtaining information concerning the tree, and that he visited carefully the latter locality in company with the keeper of the forests. He there found two species of Cedar. The peak on which they grow is about 1800 yards above the sandy soil which borders it; the more remarkable plants found at the foot of the mountain by M. Jamin were, as might have been anticipated, Mediterranean species.
" Cedars began to appear at three-quarters up the slope of Tougour, where they produce a magnificent effect, and form a thick forest up to the very summit of the peak. It is not uncommon to find specimens forty yards high and one and a half yard in diameter at the butt The two species live together, but they are distinguished at first sight The Silver Cedar was covered with ripe cones; on that of Lebanon they were more behind, and flowers were still visible on some of the branches. The habit of the Silver Cedar is that of the Silver Fir--it is pyramidal, and its foliage is silvery; while that of the Cedar of Lebanon is dark green, and its branches horizontal, as we all know. The number of trees is estimated at 20,000; the finest are on the northern face of the peak. M. JAMIN saw many dead of old age, or struck by lightning. While he was writing the ground was covered two yards deep with snow; nevertheless Asphodelus albus and lutous, Ranunculus flabellatus, Violets, and a Retama (Spartium monospermnm), were already in flower in sheltered places".
Thus, adds M. Decaisne, horticulture is finally proved to have gained a new species, notwithstanding the doubts that have been expressed concerning it-Gardeners' Chronicle.