Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Carrière

Atlas cedar
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Cedrus atlantica
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Cedrus atlantica: Broadly conical shape of the tree all year round; upward-growing branches are characteristic of young specimens

Broadly conical shape of the tree all year round; upward-growing branches are characteristic of young specimensBranch with 2 cm-long acicular leaves clustered on short shootsBranch with 3 male cones releasing pollenBranch with 2 erect mature female cones 7 cm long, typically barrel-shaped (with a truncate apex) Leaves severely affected by <span class=cursiva>Nuculaspis regnieri</span>

Cedrus: Ancient Latin name for several junipers (Juniperus spp.) and the cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani A. Rich.)

atlanticus, -a, -um: pertaining to the Atlas mountains, where it comes from


Habit: Evergreen, monoecious tree up to 40 m tall, with a stout trunk, grayish to blackish bark with few grooves, whorled branches forming different levels and a conical-pyramidal crown that can become irregular as the tree ages.

Leaves: solitary on long shoots or in bundles of 20-30 on short shoots, arranged in small rosettes, persistent, simple, 1-2(2.5) cm long, acicular, thin, hard and somewhat sharp, pale green or bluish-whitish green.

Male cones: solitary at the centre of the leaf rosettes, preferably of lower branches, 3-5 cm long, cylindrical, erect, yellowish. Female cones: solitary at the centre of the leaf rosettes, preferably of higher branches, 1.5 cm long, cylindrical or ovate-cylindrical, purplish-green or bluish-greeen.

Mature female cones: 5-8 cm long x 3-5 cm in diam., cylindrical-ellipsoid, with a truncate apex that makes them look barrel-like, erect, disintegrating when mature; seed scales ± woody, longer than bract scales, bearing 2 seeds on their adaxial side. Seeds ovate, with a membranous wing.


Male and female cones appear in autumn; female cones mature two years later.

Geographic origin

Endemic to the Atlas mountain range in N Africa (Morocco and Algeria). The species has been used in reforestation programmes in some areas in the S of the Iberian Peninsula.


It is cultivated as an ornamental in parks and private gardens all over the world. There are several cultivars, some with completely glaucous foliage, like the two specimens near the classroom building of the Agricultural Engineering school, or with a drooping form. Apart from this species, other cedars are cultivated as ornamentals in parks and promenades. One of them is C. deodara (D. Don) G. Don (Deodar cedar); another species grown less frequently is C. libani A. Rich. (cedar of Lebanon). The cedar of Lebanon, from the Tauro and Antitauro mountains of S Anatolia (Turkey) and the Lebanon and Antilebanon mountains (Lebanon), is characterized by its trunk, which is often forked, its flat-topped crown and shelf-like branches, its needles 1-3 cm long arranged in fascicles of 10-20 on the short shoots, and its mature female cones 7-12 cm long. Cedar species easily hybridize with one another. Hence, many cultivated specimens have intermediate characteristics between various species. Its timber is highly appreciated in carpentry because it is very aromatic and resistant to fungi and wood-boring insects. The individuals growing on this campus are seriously affected by the insect Nuculaspis regnieri Balachw (see Picture Gallery), a pest of the family Diaspididae detected for the first time in 1930 in the Atlas mountains (Morocco) and currently widespread in Madrid's parks and gardens.

It is propagated from seeds, and cultivars are propagated by grafting.

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