The Cedars Of Lebanon -- By: S. H. Calhoun
BSac 14:53 (Jan 1857) p. 200
The Cedars Of Lebanon
The region of the Cedars (ten hours ride south-east from Tripoli), is not far from 7000 feet above the level of the sea, and is surrounded on the north, east, and south by a still higher range of mountains. It is open towards the west, and looks down upon a vast mass of rugged mountains, and beyond them to “the great and wide sea.” The scenery is most majestic and impressive.
The soil in which the Cedars grow, is of a limestone quality, and so exceedingly rough and stony, as to be entirely unfit for the plough. The whole region around is covered deep with snow, usually from early in December to the middle of April. On the higher summits, we yet [early in July] see many banks, and in some places it never disappears. But though the snow is so abundant, it would appear that the cold is not so intense, as for instance, in New England, where you have less snow than here. You perhaps know that very little rain falls in Syria from April to November, but the amount that falls in the other half of the year is probably nearly or quite as great as the aggregate of your rain and snow for the year. This region around the Cedars is too cold for rain, and hence almost the entire discharge from the clouds is in the form of snow, while at the same time, as far as I can judge, from the reports of the people inhabiting the nearest village, the ice is far less than with you, thus indicating a less degree of cold.
The Cedars are few in number. I have been counting them to-day, and find them to be about four hundred. Our actual count was three hundred and ninety-three. The double trees mentioned hereafter are counted as single trees. I should think that not more than a dozen are less than a foot in diameter. Many of them are two feet, a less number three feet and even four and five feet in diameter. Several of them are from six to ten feet. One that I measured this morning is forty feet in circumference, say two feet above the ground. A little higher it sends forth five immense branches, each from three to five feet in diameter, which shoot up almost perpendicularly, thus, in reality constituting five trees of great size. Many of the cedars are double and a few even triple and quadruple; that is, from one root apparently there ‘grow up two or more trees, united, as one for a few feet, and then separated by a slight divergency, thus forming independent trunks straight and beautiful.
As to the age of these trees, I do not know that history says much. In a chip two inches thick I have counted today sixty circles; which I believe you who know better about such matters would make equal to sixty years. A tree of six feet in diameter according to this calculation would be nearly 1100 years old. But as the chip alluded to indicates a ve...
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