Atlas cedar

SUMMERTIME STORY #6

Atlas Cedar Biosphere Reserve, Atlas Cedar (Cèdre de l’Atlas) – Morocco. Photo from UNESCO

Dear Boxerwood friends,

Boxerwood is connected to many parts of the world through the trees and plants that grow here, many of them planted by Dr. Munger For example, Atlas cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is native to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria, yet it also thrives here at Boxerwood.  In their native range, these trees typically grow on mountain slopes between 4,000 and 7,000 feet elevation, and can grow up to 120 feet tall. In the past, vast forests of Atlas cedar covered the Atlas Mountains, but their population has seen massive decline due to human use and forest fires. Today they are endangered, with their numbers still decreasing.

Atlas cedar is noteworthy for the blue color of its needles, which is due to a wax deposit that occurs on conifers that grow in drought-prone areas. Also of note, ancient Egyptians used oils extracted from Atlas cedar wood for embalming, cosmetics, and incense.  It is closely related to the Cedars of Lebanon of biblical fame.  Today, the wood of Atlas cedar is used in furniture making; as with other types of cedar, the aromatic oil is a natural deterrent to insects.

Compared to most conifers, Atlas cedar is very tolerant of drought and heat. It also tolerates a range of soil types and cold temperatures, down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. There are two Atlas cedars at Boxerwood; one is at the top of the driveway, just to the right of the Play Trail entrance. The other is downhill from the Lodge, and is marked with a sign.