CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 932
(Lakiapollis ovatus) of Bombacaceae,
Ctenolophona (Ctenolophonidites costa-
tus) of Ctenolophonaceae, Cryptopoly-
porites cryptus, Polycolpites spp. and
Polygalacidites indicates freshwater
swampy conditions at the time of deposi-
tion. The absence of marine microfossils
like dinoflagellate and foraminiferal lin-
ings in the lignite indicates deposition in
distinctly terrestrial setting. The preva-
lence of humid tropical climatic condi-
tions and heavy rainfall
by the record of high frequency of fungal
remains, especially epiphyllous fungi
Microthyriaceae from the sediments as
well as amber.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS. We are thankful
to Prof. A. Sahni, Panjab University, Chandi-
garh for providing valuable suggestions. H.S.
thanks the Director, Birbal Sahni Institute of
Palaeobotany, Lucknow for field permission.
B.S. thanks the Head, PG Department of
Geology, RTMNU, Nagpur for support and
UGC-SAP-DRS-I for financial assistance. We
also thank Shri H. K . Joshi, General Manager
and the supporting staff at GMDC,
Tarkeshwar lignite mine, Gujarat for support
and cooperation during field investigation.
Received 16 September 2013; revised accep-
ted 5 February 2014
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany,
53, University Road,
Lucknow 226 007, India
PG Department of Geology,
RTM Nagpur University,
Nagpur 440 001, India
Institut de Science de la Terre et de
Lausanne University, Switzerland
Age of Himalayan cedar outside its natural home in the Himalayas
The Himalayan cedar popularly known
as deodar (Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) G.
Don) is endemic to Hindu Kush, Kara-
koram and western Himalaya. Natural
distribution of this species in the western
Himalaya is restricted to areas receiving
winter snow and summer monsoon rain-
fall. With the decreasing amount of win-
ter snowfall from northwest to eastern
part of the Himalaya, the deodar gradu-
ally disappears in natural forests. In sci-
entific studies, Garhwal is taken as the
natural eastern limit of Himalayan cedar
in the western Himalaya
. But, excep-
tions to this also exist in the literature as
indigenous forests of Himalayan cedar
were reported in 1924 in Karnali Valley,
. However, Bhattacharyya
while studying tree core samples
of Himalayan cedar from Giri Gaon
(2945N and 8210E), Nepal, could
establish only 265 years (AD 1714–1978)
there is no natural grove of Himalayan
cedar in Kumaon, and these could have
been first planted in temple complexes.
According to his estimates
plantations of Himalayan cedar around
temples in Kumaon aggregate ~800
acres. Though Himalayan cedar is known
to grow over thousand years in the west-
ern Himalayan region
, the age of planta-
tion trees in sacred groves around
temples in Kumaon is not known. In
Hindu mythology Himalayan cedar for
its grandeur appearance is treated as
sacred and the most preferred tree to be
planted in temple complexes. Whether
the age of Himalayan cedar plantations is
contemporaneous with the construction
of temples is not precisely known. Popu-
lar belief indicates that Himalayan cedar
was first introduced in Jageshwar temple
area in Kumaon, where it has almost
naturalized with good regeneration.
Though these sacred groves of Himala-
yan cedar in Kumaon region are still
patchy, they play a crucial role in main-
taining good floral and faunal diversity.
The Jageshwar temple, dedicated to
Lord Shiva, was built ~9–13th century
AD and plantation of Himalayan cedar
trees could have commenced after that.
To ascertain the date of plantation of
Himalayan cedar around temple com-
plexes, we surveyed and collected incre-
ment core samples from old-looking
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 933
Himalayan cedar trees in Jageshwar and
Gangolihat, Kumaon region in May 2013
(Figure 1). We noticed several gigantic
Himalayan cedar trees attaining ~9 m
girth around Jageshwar temple complex
(Figure 2), the age of which could extend
to several centuries. We collected incre-
ment cores from trees at breast height of
boles (~1.4 m) from directions perpen-
dicular to the slope. Usually two cores
were collected from old-looking trees
from two opposite sides of the boles. The
increment core samples were processed
and growth ring sequences dated using
standard dendrochronological tech-
. Very good coherence in growth
pattern of trees from both the sites as re-
vealed in COFECHA
(mean r = 0.62–
0.63) and TSAP
, and year-to-year simi-
larity in ring-width plots endorse the re-
liable dating of growth ring sequences.
We used established dendrochronologi-
cal procedures to develop tree-ring chro-
. The ring-width chronologies
of Himalayan cedar were prepared using
the program ARSTAN
. To select the
detrending method, ring-width measure-
ment plots of trees from different sites
were carefully studied. The ring-width
plots of tree samples from both the sites
revealed that the growth of Himalayan
cedar over the sampling sites is influ-
enced by stand dynamic features such as
changing competition due to gap forma-
tion. Therefore, to maximize the com-
mon signal among the samples, we
detrended the ring-width measurement
series using 100-yr cubic spline with a
50% frequency response function cut-
, except in few cases where 50-yr
spline was used. However, prior to
detrending the ring-width measurement
series were power-transformed to stabi-
lize variance in the heteroscedastic ring-
width measurement series
. The growth
trends were removed from the power-
transformed individual measurement
series by subtraction, which minimizes
the end fitting-type bias compared to the
ratios. In order to reduce the influence of
outliers, the detrended ring-width meas-
urement series of the respective tree
series were averaged to a mean chrono-
logy (standard) by computing the
biweight robust mean
. Another set of
chronologies was prepared where low-
order autocorrelation from detrended
series was removed using autoregressive
moving average (ARMA) modelling and
the resulting residual series averaged to a
mean site chronology by computing the
Figure 1. Location of tree-ring sampling sites in Kumaon Hima laya, Uttarakhand.
Figure 2. Jageshwar temple area with Himalayan cedar trees.
Figure 3. Tree-ring width chronologies of Himalayan cedar from Jageshwar (A D 1536–
and Gangolihat (AD 1668–2012) sites with the number of samples used in chronologies prepara-
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 934
Table 1. Chronology (standard) statistics of Himalayan cedar from two sites in Kumaon. Details of site locations are shown in Figure 1
Site Location Elevation (m) Core/tree SY EPS > 0.85 MI MS SD AR1
Gangolihat 2939N, 8001E 1760 38/27 1668 1720–2012 0.986 0.210 0.192 0.145
Jageshwar 2938N, 7951E 1851 41/37 1536 1690–2012 0.977 0.257 0.236 0.244
SY, Start year of the chronology; EPS, Expressed population signal; MI, Mean index; MS, Mean sensitivity; SD, Standard deviation; AR1, First-
Figure 4. Correlation between the PC#1 of two site chronologies of Hima layan cedar and monthly precipitation as well as monthly mean
temperature of Mukteshwar (1901–1991). The dashed line represents 95% confidence level of correlations.
biweight robust mean
. The replication
of 12–15 tree samples in chronologies
from Jageshwar and Gangolihat respec-
tively, was found to be sufficient to
achieve expressed population signal
level of 0.85. The standard
version of two site chronologies along
with the number of samples used and sta-
tistics are shown in Figure 3 and Table 1
respectively. Significant correlation bet-
ween the above two site chronologies for
the common period 1720–2012 with EPS
level >0.85 (r = 0.75, P < 0.0001) sug-
gests common environmental forcing
affecting growth dynamics of trees over
the respective sites.
Dating of Himalayan cedar tree core
samples using dendrochronological
methods showed the oldest tree age of
477 years (AD 1536–2012) in Jageshwar.
Thus the age of the oldest tree recorded
by us extends back to the early 16th cen-
tury. Nonetheless, in Jageshwar forests
we also recorded several snag woods,
girth of which exceeded that of the sam-
pled trees (~9 m). This indicates that the
period of plantation of Himalayan cedar
around temple complexes could be even
earlier than the early 16th century. The
trees sampled from Gangolihat are rela-
tively younger to those in Jageshwar,
indicating that the plantation of Himala-
yan cedar could have started first in
Jageshwar temple area, which gradually
spread to other regions in Kumaon. The
ring-width chronology statistics such as
mean sensitivity (Table 1) and significant
correlation between two site chronolo-
gies is similar to other climate-responsive
Himalayan cedar chronologies developed
elsewhere in the western Himalayan
. To study the relationship be-
tween Himalayan cedar chronologies and
climate, we performed cross-correlation
analyses using climate data of Mukte-
shwar (2928N, 7938E, 2171 m amsl),
the longest available data close to tree-
ring sampling locations. The weather
data of Mukteshwar show that bulk of
precipitation (~73% of 1270 mm annual)
occurs during monsoon season spread
over June–September. The November–
May precipitation occurring largely due to
western disturbances is ~22% of the an-
nual precipitation. To understand tree
growth and climate relationship, climate
data spanning from September of the
previous growth year to current year
September were used in correlations with
the residual version of Himalayan cedar
chronologies. The chronologies from
both the sites showed similar relationship
with monthly climate variables. The first
principal component (PC#1) of two site
chronologies with eigen value 1.752
explaining 87.6% of the variance in com-
mon chronology period (AD 1720–2012)
showed the relationship with climate
variables (Figure 4) to be similar to that
observed with independent site chro-
nologies. In correlation analyses, the
precipitation from previous year Sep-
tember to current year May showed
direct relationship with tree growth indi-
ces. The correlations were consistently
positive and significant (P < 0.05) from
February to May. However, no significant
correlation was noted with precipitation
during monsoon months (June–September)
when precipitation is prevalent in the
region due to active southwest summer
monsoon. In case of temperature, nega-
tive relationship with mean monthly
temperature of Mukteshwar for most of
the months was noted, except during
summer monsoon months (July–
September), when it turned positive. The
correlation analyses revealed that a cool-
moist condition in premonsoon season is
important for the radial growth of Hima-
layan cedar in Kumaon region. We are
optimistic that such climate-responsive
chronologies developed from a close
CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 106, NO. 7, 10 APRIL 2014 935
network of sites in the Kumaon region
would help in developing long-term
records of premonsoon precipitation. In
earlier studies, network of such ring-
width chronologies from the western
Himalayan region have been useful in
developing long-term robust climate
We have developed annually resolved
ring-width chronology of Himalayan
cedar from groves in Jageshwar and Gan-
golihat temple complexes in Kumaon.
The chronology from Jageshwar temple
area extends back to AD 1536, whereas
Gangolihat to AD 1668. The Himalayan
cedar forests earlier claimed to be natural
in Karnali Valley, Nepal are much
younger than those in the Kumaon re-
gion. The sensitivity of ring-width chro-
nologies to premonsoon precipitation
underscores the utility of tree-ring data
in developing long-term precipitation re-
cords for the data-scarce Kumaon region.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. K.G.M. thanks the
Director, Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeo-
botany, Lucknow for encouragement and
Received 30 July 2013; revised accepted 26
RAM R. YADAV
KRISHNA G. MISRA
BAHADUR S. KOTLI A
Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany,
53 University Road,
Lucknow 226 007, India
Department of Geology,
Nainital 263 002, India