Blue Atlas Cedar — February 2013 Tree of the Month

Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

The Blue Atlas Cedar is the Ewing Environmental Commission’s choice for the February Tree of the Month. This handsome, widely pyramidal, needled evergreen, Cedrus atlantica, is native to Northern Africa, specifically the upper slopes of the Atlas mountains of Algeria and Morocco. Our featured tree makes its home off Wilburtha Road.

Introduced to this country before 1840, the Blue Atlas Cedar thrives in USDA Hardiness zones 6 to 9. (Ewing is in USDA Zone 6B) It can grow (rapidly in its youth and slowly, later), to 120’ tall and 100’ in spread, but 40’ to 60’ high with a spread of 30’-40’ is more common. The spirally arranged needles, .5” TO 1” in length, vary from bluish green to light green, and the variety ‘Glauca’ is notably blue and common in our area. There is also a pendulous variety. The cones, which take about two years to mature, are small and green at first, maturing to about 3” long, brown, and upright on the branch.

This tree prefers a well-drained, moist, loamy soil but will tolerate other soils if moisture does not stagnate. Transplanting can be difficult and it should be purchased as a container plant; ample room must be provided in order for the tree to develop its full potential. It is said to be deer resistant. It thrives in full sun and should be sheltered from heavy winds.  A stately and beautiful tree, Blue Atlas Cedar should be used as an ornamental specimen.

The wood is durable and can be used for building, furniture, and veneers. It is also used for a variety of medical conditions, perfumery, and as an insect repellent.

 Weevils, aphids, scale, root rot and blight occasionally affect it.

The Ewing Environmental Commission (eec@ewingnj.org)  welcomes suggestions for the Tree of the Month from all Ewing residents.

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