Deodar Cedar and Cedar of Lebanon

Two examples of the Himalayan Cedar tower beyond the entrance gates of Villa Cusani Tittoni Traversi in Desio. In spring, their hanging leaves fluttering in the wind highlight a clear, triangular foliage with long and soft needles.

This is a coniferous species originating from the snowy slopes of the Himalayas, belonging to the Pinaceae family. In its land of origin this tree has a religious importance and is known as the “tree of the gods.” Like other cedars in India it is considered as the symbol of fertility and durability. Due to its fragrance, its wood is used in the construction of temples and palaces.
In Italy it is probably the most diffused type of cedar in the parks of many gardens belonging to the villas in Brianza. In fact this plant can also be found in the garden of the Palazzo Arese Borromeo in Cesano Mederno mixed with the cedar of the Atlas Mountains, forming a long perspective walkway which connects with other parts and tree-lined paths of the park itself. An isolated and majestic example is found at the entrance of the former Psychiatric Hospital of Mombello, once a historic park of Villa Crivelli Pusterla in Limbiate.
The pendulum wings distinguish the cedro deodara from the other cedars. Furthermore, the solitary needles grow on the shoots during the current year, while the very old needles appear in rosettes. The flowers are less frequent than in the other species with which it shares the characteristic of having erect flowers that free the yellow pollen in autumn in the male species, while in those of the feminine essences they are green. The fruits are big cones and mature in two years, at the end of which they detach and fall to the ground, leaving only the central axis of the cone.
The rear end of Villa Cusani Tittoni Traversi opens out to an extensive meadow. Looking toward the building opposite the park, on the right one can see another majestic example of a splendid cedar of Lebanon.
Its beautiful aspect was in part ruined by a drastic pruning of its crown probably caused by a lightning that struck it. The trunk is, however, mighty and branches out downward. Its branches, unlike those of other cedar species, develop horizontally and have at the extremity, the solitary needle-like leaves on the shoots during the current year, and in tufts on the shoots of the previous year.
Inside the romantic garden of Villa Visconti Borromeo Litta in Lainate instead, one can observe the elegant bearing of the Lebanon cedar cultivar called” Glaucous” since unlike the other cedars, the needles present a silvery green colour that creates an exclusive colour contrast with the other conifers in the surrounding. The wood of the Lebanon cedar is compact and durable, and emanates a sweet fragrance. In fact, a particular oil can be extracted from it, and was used in Ancient Egypt, to embalm the dead. For the Jews, the wood of this plant was considered incorruptible so that to indicate something that is worth commemorating, they used the expression “digna cedri.” It is probable that such customs and traditions were known to the noble owners who used anecdotes and interesting facts about tree essences conserved in the park of the villa, to entertain and awe guests and friends.