The large juniper, of its Latin name Juniperus Excelsa , is known in Lebanon as Lezzeb. Highly appreciated by the Egyptians and Phoenicians, it is a conifer widely distributed in the land of cedars, which likes to grow in high altitudes. It is one of the only trees in Lebanon to grow up to 2700 meters above sea level. Its wood is hard, compact, and extremely resistant to the harshest climatic conditions, reaching a diameter of more than one meter.
Its benefits, unlike its modest appearance of a large mushroom, are ecologically highly significant. It is responsible for fixing the soil, it prevents erosion and landslides, improves the infiltration of rainwater, and contributes thanks to the length of its roots to retain water from snowmelt, ensuring thus the abundance and quality of groundwater.
Despite all these qualities, however, the greater juniper is widely threatened in Lebanon. Excessive deforestation with a view to using its wood to heat houses or because of the anarchic emergence of quarries or roads, in addition to uncontrolled over-grazing in mountain regions, are at the origin of the reduction of forests of large junipers in Lebanon. In order to ensure its sustainability, the association Mamlakit Al-Lezzeb has started reforestation projects in the Beqaa, but long efforts have to be made to compensate for the large losses of junipers.
Finally, let’s take advantage of this beautiful image of a large juniper taken in Karm el Moher in the heights of Denniyé, in North Lebanon, while wishing you an excellent weekend.
Through Marie-Josée Rizkallah