The Atlas cedar is a majestic evergreen conifer that grows as large as 120 feet tall and around 100 feet wide in its natural habitat. However, the trees growing in the United States may grow only to be around 40 to 60 feet tall and around 20 to 40 feet wide. Considered to be a species of its own by some botanical experts, the Atlas cedar is referred scientifically as cedrus atlantica in many modern literature. However, there are instances in which the tree has been categorized as a sub species of lebanon cedar as well.
Location and soil preference
Atlas cedar is native to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria in the Northern Africa. It forms forests on mountainsides and usually seen at a height of 1370 to 2200 m. In general, Atlas cedar forms pure forests and when mixed, the other trees that are in the vicinity include Algerian Fir and Holm oak.
The hardiness of the Atlas cedar can be understood when looking at its ability to grow in different types of soil ranging from sandy to clayey or acidic to alkaline. However, it grows best when it is in full sunlight or when it is in the partial shade. Furthermore, the tree can tolerate droughts once it establishes itself as a mature tree.
The rate of growth and spread
The Atlas cedar tree is known to grow fast and upwards for the first 10 to 20 years although it begins to spread horizontally and grow slowly thereafter. When propagating, Atlas cedar is known to spread via its seeds, which are located within a cone that shatters to release its seeds when ripe.
In youth, the Atlas cedar is neatly cone-shaped although as it matures, the tree becomes more open and spreading with a flat top. The bark usually appears silvery gray and fissured. The leaves on the other hand are stiff and needle like while it appears bluish green when it forms tufts on short lateral spurs. The leaves are usually less than 1 inch in length. The cones, on the other hand, appear green when it is developing while it turns brown as it matures.
According to experts, the Atlas cedar plant should not be used in a place that does not have much space to allow its horizontal growth. At the same time, some experts suggest it to be used in hot and more humid weathers such as that experienced in southern USA, instead of using the deodar cedar. At the same time, cedar plantations, which consist of Atlas cedar, are made use of in certain parts of the world primarily for the purpose of obtaining timber.