Characteristics of Atlas Cedar Tree (Cedrus atlantica) in the Wild

Cedrus atlantica
The Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is a species of tree in the pine that is native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria. The trees grow to form forests on mountain slopes at an altitude of 1,400 to 2,200 m asl and sometimes mix with other trees such as the Algerian Pine (Abies numidica), Prickly Juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), Holm Oak (Quercus ilex), and Italian Maple (Acer opalus).

Currently, the Atlas Cedar forest is under threat from illegal logging and fires. But recently a massive reforestation campaign has been carried out in the Ifrane region, the Middle Atlas in northern Morocco.

Likewise in Algeria, the Atlas Cedar tree has experienced a drastic decline. According to 1966 data, the species inhabit 23,000 hectares, forming forests around the Djurdjura Mountains in the Kabylie and Aures Mountains. However, it is estimated that it currently occupies less than 15,000 hectares due to massive fires and uncontrolled human felling of trees.

The Atlas Cedar tree is commonly cultivated as an ornamental tree in temperate regions. Its growth and foliage characteristics are suitable as a complementary tree to the landscape. Also, Atlas cedar trees are more resistant to dry and hot conditions than most conifers.

There are many cultivars of Atlas Cedar cultivated, generally, the selected ones have glossy bluish foliage, are densely branched, and have more leaves.

Three Atlas Cedar cultivars that have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:

  • Cedrus atlantica ‘Aurea’
  • Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’
  • Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca Pendula’


Characteristics of Atlas Cedar Leaf

Cedrus atlantica Leaf

Leaves 1-2.5 cm long and again with a lot of overlap.


Characteristics of Atlas Cedar Fruit

Cedrus atlantica Fruit

The cone is only 9 cm long, smaller than 10 cm in the Cyprus Cedar (Cedrus brevifolia) and 12 cm in the Lebanese Cedar (Cedrus libani).


Characteristics of Atlas Cedar Tree

Cedrus atlantica Tree
Source: Polák

Atlas Cedar can grow 30-35 meters tall (rarely 40 m), with a trunk diameter of 1.5-2 meters. The mature tree closely resembles the character from the Lebanese Cedar, and the differences are hard to see.

To get to the native species of Cedrus atlantica, it is necessary to do a little research on a skilled and skilled cultivator. If not, you may end up with the Cedrus libani species, which of course is difficult to maintain in temperate or hot climates.

Cedrus atlantica can grow in USDA Zones 6-9, while Cedrus libani can only grow in USDA Zones 6-7.


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