Atlas Cedar

scale of cone‘Mature cones of the blue Atlantic cedar are plump and pink-brown, sitting up like over-fed skittles on the boughs of brush-like blue foliage’cedar cone

Hugh Johnson, The International Book of Trees, 1973

kew gardens kew urnApart from starting to sketch one of the urns on Victoria Gate at Kew Gardens, I didn’t get to do any drawing. We met up with friends and, as it was so cold, we kept on the move, popping into the greenhouses to warm up. My glasses steamed up instantly as we entered the palm house!

I picked up these pieces of the cones of the Atlas cedar, Cedrus atlantica, to draw back in our hotel room. The scalecones are described as dehiscent, meaning that they burst or gape open, scattering these scales on the ground below.

Atlas cedar grows on the northern flanks of the Atlas and Riff mountains of Morocco and Algeria. They can grow to forty metres.

cone‘In Morocco’s Atlas mountains, macaque monkeys clamber among the cedars and scamper across the ground in search of roots.’scale

David Attenborough, The First Eden,  The Mediterranean World and Man, 1987.

The first photograph in Attenborough’s book shows an Atlas cedar with macaques resting on its boughs, a surprising contrast of conifer – which I’d associate with temperate or northern boreal climate zones – and African animal.