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1927 Map of the Arboretum

1900: Contracted Collections of Cedrus libani

The stem of a cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani, accession 4697*K) reaches skyward. This tree grew from seed collected by Walter Siehe in the Atlas Mountains of Turkey in 1900. William 'Ned' Friedman, 2018.
The stem of a cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani, accession 4697*K) reaches skyward. This tree grew from seed collected by Walter Siehe in the Atlas Mountains of Turkey in 1900.

Plants collected on this Expedition

Plant ID Accession Date Recieved As Origin Source

Expedition Stats

Turkey

Event Type
Contract
Collection Type
Germplasm
Other Participants
Walter Siehe
Sepia tinged photograph of scattered cedars on mountain slope, closer view
Cedrus libani ssp. stenocoma growing in the Taurus Mountains of Turkey, photographed by Walter Siehe, likely in 1900 or 1901. Archives of the Arnold Arboretum.

At the turn of the 20th century, Charles Sprague Sargent contracted with a German-born botanist Walter Siehe, a resident in what is today Turkey, to make a collection of cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani) seed.

High-Altitude Cedar-of-Lebanon

Cedar-of-Lebanon had historically been valued and used as a religious and national symbol throughout the Levantine region and its horticultural merits were well recognized in Europe and North America. Although desired as a feature tree in estates and gardens, cedar-of-Lebanon seed collected prior to the Siehe contract did not prove to be reliably hardy in the rigorous climate of New England.

In 1926, Herbert Wendell Gleason photographed these cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani on Bussey Hill. They are shown on a hand-tinted lantern slide.
In 1926, Herbert Wendell Gleason photographed these cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani) on Bussey Hill. They are shown on a hand-tinted lantern slide. Archives of the Arnold Arboretum.

The tree populations Siehe targeted were high in the Taurus Mountains in southern Turkey. Sargent hoped that they would have greater cold-hardiness than specimens growing in the Eastern United States at that time.

In a letter from Siehe to Sargent in the Arboretum Archives dated November 1900, Siehe notes the trip took eight days and yielded 110 pounds (50 kilograms) of seed. He collected from a population growing at approximately 6,250 feet (1905 meters) above sea level, near the upper limit of its range. Siehe sent the collection and shipment fee of 60 Deutsche Marks (about $15 in 1900 and $465 in 2020). The Arnold Arboretum accessioned the Siehe collections on February 4, 1902.

Bright green new growth contrasts with older dark green leaves on the Cedrus libani.
Bright green new growth contrasts with older dark green leaves on the cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani, accession 4697*K). Danny Schissler, 2020.

Back to Boston

The seed lot (accession 4697) proved to be reliably hardy, drought tolerant, and vigorous in the Arboretum landscape, only suffering major setbacks during extreme high wind events such as the Hurricane of 1938. Of the 20 young trees originally planted out on the landscape, eight still survive nearly 120 years later.

Dig Deeper

For an in-depth look at this fascinating tree please see, “The Quest for the Hardy Cedar-of-Lebanon,” by Arboretum Keeper of the Living Collections, Michael Dosmann and Anthony Aiello, Director of Horticulture and Curator at the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.

Parts of fallen cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani accession 4697*P) cones and catkins. The cones often break into pieces when they hit the ground.
Parts of fallen cedar-of-Lebanon (Cedrus libani accession 4697*P) seed cones and old pollen cones. The seed cones break apart while still on the tree to scatter their seed. They shatter further when they hit the ground. Kyle Port, 2013.