Atlas Cedar Cedrus atlantica 

The Atlas Cedar can be identified by its needles, cone and shape. It is a conifer, native to the Atlas Mountains in Algeria and Morocco, where it grows at an altitude of 1300 to 2200m. It was introduced to Britain before 1840. It is now very common in old parks, churchyards and gardens of all sizes. It is usually in the ‘glauca’ form known as the Blue Atlas Cedar, shown here. The branch-ends usually point upward. The normal wild form is uncommon and has deep green needles. There are only three ‘true’ Cedars you are likely to see – the Atlas Cedar, the Cedar of Lebanon and the Deodar. They can be difficult to tell apart but generally Atlas Cedars have upward pointing tips to their branches, Deodar’s tips point downwards and those of the Cedar of Lebanon are flat. ‘True’ Cedars are the only autumn-flowering conifers. Male ‘flowers’ shed pollen in October or November.

This is the Blue Atlas Cedar, the most commonly planted form.

The Blue Atlas cedar has short blue needles in clusters of up to 45. The needles are shorter than those on the other two cedars.

Male ‘flowers’ shedding yellow pollen in early October.

All three cedars have similar barrel-shaped cones, 9cm tall when fully grown.

The bark of old trees is grey and cracked into plates.