The Gymnosperm Database


A very large tree photographed on Mt. Babor in Algeria (Barbey 1934). For this and similar photos see "Foreste & Dintorni" by Enrico Rovelli.


Foliage and dehiscent cones on an ornamental specimen in Seattle (USA) [C.J. Earle, 1999.02].


Distribution: Cedrus atlantica in red, C. brevifolia in blue and C. libani in purple (redrawn from Vidakovic 1991).


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Conservation status

Cedrus atlantica

(Endl.) G.Manetti ex Carrière 1855

Common names

Atlas cedar (Vidakovic 1991).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: C. africana Gord. ex Knight; C. libani var. atlantica Hort.ex Carr. (Vidakovic 1991).


"A tree up to 40 m high and up to 2 m in diameter. BARK on old trees fissured. CROWN pyramidal, with few branches, open. BRANCHES strongly ascending and relatively short; leading shoot erect and bent at the tip. SHOOTS thickly pubescent. LEAVES silvery bluish or green, usually not longer than 2.5 cm, between 19 and 28 in a whorl. FLOWERS appearing from June to September. CONES cylindrical, with level or concave top, 5-7 cm long, up to 4 cm wide, glossy, light brown, maturing in September and October and shedding seeds into the spring; seed scales about 3.5 cm wide, with tomentose keel. SEED 12 mm long and wing 12-15 mm long" (Vidakovic 1991).

Distribution and Ecology

Morocco & Algeria: the Atlas and Riff Mountains, 1000-2000 m, where it forms monspecific stands (Vidakovic 1991). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree

Trees more than 200 cm DBH are exceptional; they have been recorded in Morocco, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, the UK, and Ireland. Currently the largest diameter specimen was 293 cm DBH in 2012 with a laser-measured height of 34 m; it occurs in the park of the Ospedale di Varese in Varese, Italy (Monumental Trees 2017a). This is a two-tree fusion, however, all of the largest recorded ornamental specimens have a "shrub" growth form, meaning that they have multiple stems and limbs that diverge below breast height (1.40 m) and thus do not have a clear single stem. The largest tree in Morocco appears to be growing in habitat and has a single-stem growth form; in 2015 it was 258 cm diameter at a height of 1.0 m (which is an anomalously large measurement due to a large burl; 210 cm DBH appears to be the approximate size) and was optimistically estimated to be 40 m tall (Monumental Trees 2015). The tallest accurately measured specimen is in Lourdes, France and in 2017 was measured at 45.60 m (Monumental Trees 2017b).

A specimen 382 cm dbh and 30 m tall was recorded in Parco Castello, Piemonte, Montalenghe, TO, Italy (Alberi Monumentali d'Italia, a listing of big trees in Italy). These trees are not otherwise recorded and may have since died.

In Australia, a tree in Latrobe, Tasmania was measured in 2011 as 167 cm dbh and 38.0 m tall (National Register of Big Trees 2012).



Numerous collections by Charles Stockton, working in Morocco ca. 1984-1989. The climate-ring width relationship is explored by Till (1987). Further work can be located at the Bibliography of Dendrochronology.


"It is a light-demanding tree which succeeds on basic soils, and it is quite hardy. A fast growing species, it is cultivated for ornamental purposes in parks and avenues, and may be used for afforestation of the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean barren lands.

"Wood is durable and used in building and for furniture" (Vidakovic 1991).




Barbey, A. 1934. Une reliquie de la Sapiniére Mèditerranéenne: Le Mont Babor. Monographie de l'Abies Numidica Lann., pag. 1-78.

Monumental Trees. 2015. Atlas cedar 'Le Cèdre Bossu' in the Forêt de Cèdres., accessed 2017.09.04.

Monumental Trees. 2017a. Atlas cedar in the park of the Ospedale di Varese in Varese., accessed 2017.09.04.

Monumental Trees. 2017b. Atlas cedar close to the Basilique, avenue Mgr Théas., accessed 2017.09.04.

National Register of Big Trees. 2012. Tree Register: National Registry of Big Trees., accessed 2012.06.23.

Till, C. 1987. The summary response function of Cedrus atlantica (Endl.) Carrière in Morocco. Tree-Ring Bulletin 47:23-36. Available online at (accessed 2006.06.05).

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Caraglio, Yves. [no date]. Mediterranean Pines and Cedars. (accessed 2006.11.01). This page describes the "Morphology and architecture of Cedrus atlantica Manetti ex Carrière."

Nicholson, R. 1986. Collecting rare conifers in North Africa. Arnoldia 46(1):20-29. Available:, accessed 2010.02.12.

Last Modified 2017-12-29