[Sca-cooks] Icelandic trees and wood

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Tue Oct 10 05:19:56 PDT 2006

Cedars are commonly found in the Northern Tropic and Temperate Zones. 
Juniperus mexicana (Texas cedar) is native to Texas and can be found in 
central Texas.

Iceland is near the Arctic Circle, which reduces the probability of cedar 
being found there.  According to a paleobiologic study I came across, the 
common trees in the early Habitation Period were birch and willow, covering 
approximately one quarter of the island.  Neither is particularly good for 
ship building and due to the climatic conditions, they require much more 
time to reach maturity than similar trees grown in more temperate parts of 


> I'm not sure what trees are common in Iceland, but I agree, I don't
> think cedar would be one of them. I think both the soil and the
> weather rule them out. Cedars/Junipers are common trees here, but I
> don't believe they are native here in central Texas.
> I am curious though about what evidence you have that the trees of
> Iceland were cut down for boat building. The reading I've done on
> this says that the Norse that moved to Iceland quickly lost their
> shipbuilding arts and became dependent upon the ships coming from
> Denmark because the trees in Iceland were not suitable for building
> large boats. This was one reason that Iceland was so isolated for
> centuries, along with the problems due to the climate changing.
> I think Iceland lost its trees to simple domestic use and perhaps the
> impact of imported grazing animals. I think Nanna covers this in her
> book. I'll try to dig out her book and look in it, if anyone is
> interested. Nanna, are you out there?
> Stefan

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