Cedar - Himalayan cedar, Cedrus deodara
Himalayan cedar (“deodar”) is a temperate / sub-alpine conifer, native to the Western Himalayas. It tolerates snow and strong winds (but NOT salt-laden winds) and does best in well drained soils at altitudes of up to 3,000 metres. With an elegant conical form it is commonly planted as an ornamental, or for shelter. A number of small blocks have been planted by farm foresters for timber. It will grow for 700 years, reaching 40 - 50 m high and 3 m in diameter.
Commercial return: Low
AltitudeHigh altitude; Moderate altitude; Low altitude;
RainfallModerately high rainfall; Moderately low rainfall; Low rainfall;
Soil depthModerate depth; Shallow;
Soil drainageFree draining; Moderately free draining;
TemperatureWarm; Moderate; Cold; Very cold;
WindStrong wind; Moderate wind;
Prepare grass sites by spot spraying a one metre circle for each planting site. Use glyphosate herbicide with spray dye a few days before planting as this will not leave chemical residue in the soil. Prepare spots using straight lines and accurate spacings between spots so that trees can be easily found later. Cut down woody weeds and flatten these on the ground so they decay and don't support weed growth.
Himalayan cedar can cope with dry conditions once established.
Container-grown and bare-rooted stock may be available from some commercial nurseries if grown on contract, subject to seed being available. Price per tree should range from $2.00 - $3.00 for 2 year-old contract-grown forestry stock (2020 prices).
Himalayan cedar can grow on thin, skeletal soils but prefers reasonable soil depth and does not tolerate poor soil drainage. Young trees require full sun and are slow starters so need reasonable weed control during establishment. Plant in winter.
Take great care in the handling, transport and storage of seedlings, especially bare-rooted stock which must be kept cool and moist and planted as soon as possible after wrenching. Containerised (plug) stock should also be planted as soon as possible after receiving the plants. Make sure the root plugs are moist by soaking in a water trough.
Plant trees with a slow release fertilizer tablet underneath or put a trowel of high nitrogen fertiliser such as DAP or urea in a spade slit above the seedling.
Do not "slit and stuff" bare-rooted plants. Plant as per these instructions ».
For containerised stock, dig a hole twice the size of the plant container, leaving some soft soil at the bottom. Tease out (straighten and trim) any pot-bound roots before firming the soil around them, ensuring there are no air cavities.
When growing Himalayan cedar for timber plant at a relatively high stocking to ensure a high selection ratio of vigorous final crop trees and to encourage narrow form and fine branching. A suggested initial stocking is 1670 stems per hectare (2 m x 3 m), but lower stockings of down to 833 stems per hectare (4 m x 3 m) are acceptable. The natural form of this species is conical but branching can be heavy at low stockings.
- Prevent weeds from competing with the Himalayan cedar seedlings for at least two years after planting.
- Protect seedlings from browsing by stock and wild animals.
Himalayan cedar is not shade tolerant so requires open sites with good weed control. Release spray after planting once weeds begin to regrow. Spray releasing for the first two years is recommended for good growth rates.
Himalayan cedar is palatable to deer and stock and all stock should be fenced out for at least ten years or until rough bark develops.
Young Himalayan cedar seedlings are palatable to hares and rabbits. They will slice off trees near ground level at a 45 degree angle, killing them.
The seedlings may be palatable to possums which should be controlled with poison, trapping or shooting.
Pests and diseases
If planted in ground that can become waterlogged, Himalayan cedar will be susceptible to root-rot. However In New Zealand it is generally healthy and rarely harmed by insects, disease or frost.
Deodar is not fast-growing but tolerates extreme conditions such as wind and dry. It has an established role as a tree for shelter, shade and amenity, and has been successfully grown for timber by farm foresters in drier locations.
Suitability for steep slopes: Grown for timber Himalayan cedar is reasonably productive over long rotations on difficult sites, lending it well to steepland regimes for controlling erosion. It is tolerant of extremely strong winds, does not cause wilding spread and is suitable for continuous cover forestry (i.e. where individual trees are harvested on reaching a particular size rather than a particular age). When grown for timber the target is to achieve large pruned butt logs and upper unpruned logs with green or moribund branches less than 50 mm diameter.
To get good quality timber suitable for cladding, silvicultural management should aim to minimise the incidence of bark-encased knots. At a final stocking of 400 stems per hectare, Himalayan cedar will produce sawlogs with good diameters.
Himalayan cedar has reasonably good form with few malformations or double leaders. It will grow tall but can have some heavy branching and to develop quality clearwood it requires pruning.
Clearwood pruning: The aim of clearwood pruning is to minimise the defect core and produce wood free of knots. Pruning "lifts" must be regular and undertaken at a frequency that minimises branch size and diameter over stubs (DOS). Ideally, only final crop trees would be clear-pruned. The smaller more horizontal branches on lower stems of Himalayan cedar established within a highly-stocked stand (i.e. 1600 stems per hectare or more) will generally self-prune when they are shaded out. Larger, upward pointing branches should be removed as soon as possible as they will reduce height growth and increase defect core diameter.
Clearwood pruning guidelines are available here.
Prune the stem in 4 to 5 lifts (depending on site productivity) to a stem diameter of 12 cm, and to at least 6 metres height. Prune annually from approximately age 6 or when 2-3 m tall, then every year or two after that.
Suitable pruning tools include loppers and a pruning hand-saw, a battery-operated reciprocating saw, or battery-operated loppers. Form pruning can be undertaken by using a pole pruner.
Himalayan cedar has a conical form with occasional heavy branches. Because the target product is the naturally durable heartwood, thinning should aim for a final crop of evenly spaced trees of around 400 stems per hectare and a 40-50 year rotation. Thinning should commence once crowns touch and before branches die from shade.
When to harvest
Growth rates vary according to site, but in general allow between one and two years for each centimetre of diameter growth. Grown for erosion control on steep, exposed sites as a permanent forest, Himalayan cedar could be harvested as soon as it reaches 45 cm diameter at breast height, which could be between 40 and 60 years depending on site conditions.
Himalayan cedar timber is strongly, but pleasantly scented, reddish-pink in colour, lightweight and resistant to decay. It is easy to saw and season with good woodworking properties, and is favoured for its appearance. It is used in joinery, boxes, panelling, veneers, plywood and furniture. The heartwood is suitable for exterior cladding but is not accepted in New Zealand as a structural timber. Find out more about the timber here »
Markets and demand
Himalayan cedar is a true cedar. Very little cedar is grown for timber in New Zealand, but a handful of mills around the country have developed a small market for ‘cedar’ timber, especially for weatherboards and exterior cladding. The essential oil can be distilled and is used in soap perfumes, household sprays, floor polishes, insecticides and in aromatherapy.
Himalayan cedar will grow 50 - 75 cm a year in height and up to 1 cm a year in diameter. No formal growth models exist for this species but different sources in New Zealand report trees reaching 12-15 metres tall at age 25, and at age 46 averaging 23 metres tall and just under 50 cm in diameter at breast height.
Practical hints for measuring trees offers some advice on monitoring growth.
Carbon sequestration rate over time, and relevant Look-up Tables
If the land is registered under the Emissions Trading Scheme and the trees are planted so as to comply, i.e. at least one hectare, with tree crown cover of more than 30 percent in each hectare and an average width of tree crown cover of at least 30 metres, then they should earn carbon credits. The relevant look-up tables for determining how quickly they store carbon and earn credits, and guides to how to use the tables, may be downloaded here.
As Himalayan cedar is an exotic softwood tables A2.2 and A2.4 apply, suggesting that over its first 30 years it stores carbon roughly 1 1/2 times faster than indigenous forest and half as fast as radiata pine.
Timber return on investment
There are no economic analyses of Himalayan cedar grown for timber in New Zealand.