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Dead Cedrus Brevifolia #679096 - Ask Extension


Dead Cedrus Brevifolia #679096

Asked January 13, 2021, 9:30 AM EST

This was once such a beautiful tree that a prospective buyer of the house next door came over and asked to see it. What killed it? I am 95% certain this is a Cedrus Brevifolia. If I am confused, it's with its pair, planted at the same time, a Cedrus Libani. Interestingly, my Libani, twice as big as the Cyprus, has had a rough year, dropping many more needles than I remember from past years. I consider it excessive because it has wiped out entire branches, somewhat randomly throughout the tree; although mostly lower branches. This is my first year requiring removal of dead branches. A few years back, my mother's weeping blue atlas, MANY years old, died almost overnight. I do not remember white sap stains; which does not mean they weren't there, only that I do not remember that symptom. So, that's my story. Are these all related? What killed the Cyprus? Should I give up on cedars? Thank you for your time and service, Andy Darby

Montgomery County Maryland

Expert Response

We share your disappointment with the loss of your beautiful tree.

According to this page from Oregon State University, we think that your Cedrus trees may be the same:

It's impossible to say for sure what took out your tree but it is likely a combination of factors, first environmental problems which stressed it, and later insect issues that moved in related to the stress.

Unfortunately these trees are native to mountainous regions of Cyprus with climates that are drier than our area here in the mid-Atlantic U.S. They are labeled with a cold-hardiness to zone 6.

Given climate change, it's getting more difficult to predict how plants will respond. Within the last couple of years we have had significant periods of historically high rainfall, interspersed with periods of drought. 

Once stressed, trees are more likely to attract insect pests like borers, which could be the reason for the sap flows you are seeing. Evergreen trees are notorious for being slow to show damage or symptoms until they are essentially dead- think of Christmas trees that are literally disconnected from their roots for weeks or even months before their needles brown. That's why it sometimes seems to have "almost died overnight".

You might wish to pull that tree out and examine the roots and nearby soil to see if it is wet there and there was root rot (healthy roots are white).

We wouldn't recommend replacing with the same type of tree.

For your other one, you could consider having a Certified Arborist come and assess the health of the tree and what might be done to help it along. You can search for an arborist that is credentialed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) at their website here: You should consider having more than one give recommendations and compare.


Christine McComas Replied January 14, 2021, 10:23 AM EST
Christine.  Thank you very much.  You might be onto something wrt water.  My mother's tree was in a particularly wet spot.  My location(s) does not pool water, but what with our clay soil, it may have trouble keeping its roots dry.

I have contacted 2 arborist, per your suggestion.  Probably long overdue, as I have over 50 unique trees that I have selected and planted, some exotic, and I probably need a specialist to let me know which ones were a mistake so I can start afresh.  Not many things are as frustrating as watching a tree grow for 20 years and then learn it was never suited for the environment; aka Colorado Blue Spruce.

Thanks again,   Andy

On Thursday, January 14, 2021, 10:23:39 AM EST, Ask Extension wrote:

Frederika Granger Replied January 14, 2021, 11:18 AM EST

You are wise and on the right track. Good luck.


Christine McComas Replied January 14, 2021, 11:29 AM EST

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