The African Conifer
As the common name indicates, this tree is native to the Atlas Mountains of North Africa and is one of our few representatives from that continent.
It is typically cultivated as an ornamental tree in temperate climates of Oregon because it is more tolerant of dry and hot conditions than most conifers.
This distinctive evergreen has silver blue-green needles. Pyramidal in its youth, it becomes massive with horizontal, spreading branches. The Atlas Cedar lives long and requires a lot of space to develop freely growing 40 to 60 feet high with a 30 to 40 foot spread. Male cones are 2 to 3 inches and form on lower part of tree, with larger purple female cones developing on top branches. Its needles are blue-green color about 1 inch long with a white color underneath.
At use in landscaping and urban settings, its understory is often determined by design. However, native species of shrubs and trees should be removed to reduce competition and improve growing conditions.
The species is hardy to at least -4°F, but growth and survival is poor in high rainfall areas, so planting should be confined to warmer areas with moderate annual rainfall.
Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
Tolerant of many soil conditions, it prefers a moist and well-drained area where it can grow without being crowded. It grows rapidly when young, then slowly, reaching 40 to 60 feet in height an 30 to 40 feet wide. They are best located as a lawn specimen away from walks, streets, and sidewalks so branches will not have to be pruned.