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CALOCEDRUS decurrens

Image of Calocedrus decurrens

James H. Schutte

Family

Cupressaceae

Botanical Name

CALOCEDRUS decurrens

Plant Common Name

Incense Cedar

General Description

The leaves of this beautiful, upright conifer are so fragrant when crushed it is known as the incense cedar. The species is native to mountain ranges from central Oregon to Baja California where winters are wet and summers dry. However, the species is adapted to sites from sea level to high desert so long as ample winter moisture is available. This round-topped tree features layers of flat branchlets with scale-like leaves that are dense and attractive year around. The bark is rough, dark brown and aromatic.

Though its flowers are insignificant, the tree develops bunches of paired seed capsules at the tips of the branchlets, weighing them down at maturity. The seed is vital to many forms of wildlife in its home range. Incense cedar is often used in the landscape as is coast redwood because their forms are quite similar, except this tree is much slower growing and far more cold hardy. Supplemental water is recommended in early years to encourage an extensive root zone that will provide drought resistance as the tree matures. While it makes a fine residential tree, incense cedar will eventually outgrow most sites except for larger parks, civic plantings and estates.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    70'-130' / 21.3m - 39.6m

  • Width

    6'-28' / 1.8m - 8.5m

  • Native To

    Western United States, California, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • Fruit Color

    Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees, Street Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No