Species list


Cedrus atlantica

Atlas cedar

Atlas cedar (Eng); cedro del Atlas, pino de Marruecos (Spa); cedre, cedre de l’Atlas (Cat); Atlaseko zedroa (Baq); cedro-do-atlas (Por).


DID YOU KNOW...? According to Jose Juan Jiménez of the archaeological museum in Tenerife, Mauritanian tables made of cedar wood fetched prices equivalent to 91 kilogrammes of gold in 1st century Rome.


A long-lived and very large tree that can be up to 50 m tall in its native lands, although in the Canary Islands it rarely reaches a height of 30 m. Its branches form distinct levels and its crown is more or less pyramidal, although it loses this shape as it ages. The trunk is very straight with smooth ash-grey bark that becomes rougher, thicker and cracked as the tree gets older. The leaves are whitish blue-green needles, persistent, rigid, pointed and of variable size (up to 4 cm in length). Generally, they appear grouped in radially-arranged bunches on short twigs, reminiscent of an old shaving brush. The cones, which are always erect, are 5-8 cm long and 3-5 cm wide, and look like little wooden barrels as they are squashed cylinders with flattened apexes and brown when ripe. Once formed they appear smooth and consistent in texture due to the tight arrangement of the scales, but when ripe (they stay on the tree for almost 2 years) they disintegrate little by little. They contain around 100 seeds (pine nuts) that are almost triangular in shape and which have a very long, broad wing.


The Atlas cedar occupies small areas and forms forests on mountain slopes between altitudes of 1300 and 2600 m. It tends to grow in very limey, organic-rich soils, although it is does well on all substrate types, except when they are very wet. This tree withstands hot, dry summers, very snowy winters and strong winds, but it cannot survive in maritime environments. It is frequently cultivated as is tolerates warm, dry conditions better than most conifers.


This tree originates from the Atlas Mountains (Morocco and Algeria) and in the Canary Islands it has been planted in high zones, such as Las Cañadas in Teide National Park (Tenerife) and the environs of Mejoranas, a mountain that makes up part of the protected Las Cumbres landscape (Gran Canaria). According to the observations of botanists from the 'Viera and Clavijo' botanical gardens on Gran Canaria, this tree has become established in the wild on both islands.