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Atlas Cedar Cedrus atlantica

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Cedrus atlantica 'Argentea'
  • Cedrus libani subsp. atlantica
Phonetic Spelling
SEE-drus at-LAN-ti-ka
Description

Cedrus atlantica is best used as a specimen tree. This tree is difficult to transplant, is the least cold hardy of the cedars, and should be more widely planted in the south. For planting guidelines, this plant prefers moist, well-drained soil and needs wind protection. In its native habitat, it will form forests on mountainsides.  These forests provide a habitat of the endangered primate, Barbary macaque.   

In its youth, Cedrus atlantica's form is pyramidal; however, with age, this tree becomes flat topped with broad horizontal branches. Some would even say that this tree is picturesque. Its texture is medium to fine.  

The growth rate can be up to 24" per year.  This long-lived tree has been known to survive up to 150 years.

This tree produces an aromatic oil that is a natural insect deterrent.  Its harvested wood is commonly used in building furniture and drawers.

Human use of this tree brings a sense of danger for its future.  Wood harvesting and firewood are the leading cause of the decline of this species.  Forests are smaller than then were in the past.  However, massive reforestation campaigns are taking place in some regions.  

Quick ID Hints:

  • similar to C. libani, but has taller crown
  • blue foliage to very blue
  • needles short, stiff, multiple on dwarf shoot
  • all Cedrus genus members have new needles that are born singly on stems
  • needles are triangular to quadrangular in cross-section
  • female wood barrel-shaped cones sit on top of the branches
  • Difficult to transplant

Bluish green cedar, 40-60' tall, 30-40' wide. Specimen tree, should be used for nothing less and allowed to develop in an open environment with no competitors. Difficult to transplant, should be moved as container, well drained, moist loamy soil preferred, but can tolerate sandy soil as well, takes full sun, and needs shelter from high winds.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Heavy snowfall can damage or break the branches.  Tip blight can occasionally be an issue.  Susceptible to Phytophthora and root rotand sooty mold.

It needs adequate space in order to properly develop.  Its deep taproot makes it difficult to transplant.

Cannot grow in full shade.

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Argentea', 'Aurea', 'Fastigiata', 'Glauca', 'Glauca Pendula'
Tags:
#evergreen#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#needles#cones#blue needles#conifer#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#messy#needled evergreen#long lifespan#fantz#messy fruits#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#winter garden#partial shade tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Argentea', 'Aurea', 'Fastigiata', 'Glauca', 'Glauca Pendula'
Tags:
#evergreen#full sun tolerant#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#specimen#needles#cones#blue needles#conifer#salt tolerant#winter interest#air pollution tolerant#messy#needled evergreen#long lifespan#fantz#messy fruits#humidity tolerant#sandy soils tolerant#clay soils tolerant#winter garden#partial shade tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cedrus
    Species:
    atlantica
    Family:
    Pinaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Grafting
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North & Central Morocco to North Algeria
    Fire Risk Rating:
    high flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Birds nest in the branches.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Screening
    Shade
    Textural
    Wildlife Cover/Habitat
    Wildlife Nesting
    Wind Break
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    tolerates a range of soil types (sandy, clay); moderately salt tolerant; heat tolerant
    Dimensions:
    Height: 40 ft. 0 in. - 60 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 30 ft. 0 in. - 40 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Conical
    Erect
    Horizontal
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    No fruits, but has 2-3" upright, green male cones that turn brown as the tree ages. Very densely set, erect, finger-shaped cones, less than 1" wide. The purple female cones are cylindrical and can reach a length of up to 3" long. They are found on the upper branches.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Description:
    Male and female cones.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Needles
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Whorled
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are small (0.7-1.5 inches) needles that are bluish green (sea green), varying in color from light green, a pale-green, a bright green, to almost a silvery blue. Rigid, needles in fascicles of 10-30 needles. They are curved towards the tip and appear in tufted clusters.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Fissured
    Bark Description:
    Bark makes boxy pattern of rectangle shapes as the tree ages.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The stems are brown/ gray. Stiff, horizontal main branching. Branching is relatively sparse, particularly when young.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat
    Pollution
    Salt
    Problems:
    Messy