Blue Atlas Cedar

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The Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria, where it can be found in scattered stands at elevations of 1,000 to 2,500 metres. With a different growth habit to the parent plant, the blue Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) has stunning silvery blue foliage. It rivals the blue spruce (Picea pungens ‘Glauca’) as the best blue foliaged conifer in the world.

Plant details

Common name: Blue Atlas Cedar

Botanic name: Sold under botanic name Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’

The botanical name of this variety is a mess. Its correct name is Cedrus atlantica ‘Fastigiata’ but it has been incorrectly called ‘Glauca’ for many years. As well as that, some authorities consider C. atlantica to be a subspecies of C. libani. Hence its correct name could be Cedrus libani ‘Fastigiata’.

Description: A handsome conifer with a pyramidal habit when young, but with age becoming flat topped with ascending or horizontal branches. Old trees may reach 30m (100′) or more tall, and 20m (60′) wide – in old English gardens 30m specimens are common. The rich, glaucous blue foliage colour persists throughout the year. The cones are barrel-shaped and upright, and take around two years to mature. Several garden forms have been selected including a bizarre weeping form called ‘Glauca Pendula’, which has long drooping branches. The parent plant C. atlantica has a conical shape all of its life and it has a horizontal, layered series of branches.

Best climate: This tree will grow in most parts of Australia, except for inland and tropical areas. However, it does best in cool, moist climates.

Best look:

A specimen tree for parks, golf courses, large gardens and country properties. The weeping form can be trained and draped over a pergola or other garden structure to frame an entrance or create an unusual grotto-like effect. The colour of the structure should be carefully chosen to complement the beautiful silver grey foliage of the plant.

Good points:

lovely silvery blue foliage beautiful form very hardy adaptable to a wide range of soils and climatic conditions attractive, strong durable timber which is much sought after by craftsmen and cabinet-makers


The Blue Atlas Cedar eventually grows into a very large tree, so it needs to be sited in a place where it has enough room to grow. Patience is required if growing and training the weeping form. It takes many years to achieve the desired effect and coverage!


This tree prefers a well-drained loamy soil, but it will grow in a broad range of soils. It is also very drought tolerant once established.

Getting started:

Both the trees mentioned above may be difficult to find. Try a specialist conifer or cold climate nursery, or ask your local nursery to order them in for you. The Blue Atlas Cedar (sold as Cedrus atlantica ‘Glauca’) costs from $50 for plants in 200mm (8″) pots, and from $85 for 325mm (13″) pots. The Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar costs from $50 for 200mm (8″) pots, and from $165 for $325mm (13″) pots.