Incense Cedar (Decurrens) is generally described as
a perennial tree.
native to the U.S. (United States)
has its most active growth period in the
spring and summer .
The greatest bloom is usually observed in the
with fruit and seed production starting in the
summer and continuing until
retained year to year.
Incense Cedar (Decurrens) has a
long life span relative to most other plant species and a
slow growth rate.
At maturity, the typical
Incense Cedar (Decurrens) will reach up to
100 feet high, with a maximum height at 20 years of
Incense Cedar (Decurrens) is easily found in nurseries, garden stores and other plant dealers and distributors. It can be propagated by
bare root, container, cuttings, seed.
It has a
slow ability to spread through seed production and the seedlings have
Note that cold stratification is
not required for seed germination and the plant cannot survive exposure to temperatures below
medium tolerance to drought and restricted water conditions.
Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.
Medicinal: A decoction of the leaves was used to treat stomach troubles (Moerman 1998). Steam from an infusion of incense cedar bark was inhaled in the treatment of colds (Ibid.). The bark was used to make baskets and the twigs were used to make brooms.
Economic: Incense cedar has aromatic wood that resists decay and insects. The wood is used as window sashes, sheathing under stucco or brick veneer construction, mudsills, fencing, greenhouse benches, and poles. It is also widely used for interior and exterior siding. The soft and pliable wood makes it one of the few species suitable for making pencils.
Landscaping & Wildlife: Incense cedar is an attractive landscape tree that is excellent for large areas and formal plantings (Dirr 1990). This tree is a splendid park and large home-grounds species in climates suitable for them (Lemmon 1952). It is browsed moderately by mule deer. Small mammals eat the seeds. This species is primarily used by wildlife species for cover.
Agroforestry: Calocedrus decurrens is used in tree strips for windbreaks. It is planted and managed to protect livestock, enhance production, and control soil erosion. Windbreaks can help communities with harsh winter conditions better handle the impact of winter storms and reduce home heating costs during the winter months. Incense cedar is also widely planted in the mountains for erosion control.
General: Cypress family Cupressaceae. Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens is a medium sized tree eighty to one hundred twenty feet high (Preston 1989). The leaves are small, scale-like, oblong-ovate, in whorls of four, decurrent, and closely adnate on the branchlets and aromatic when crushed. The flowers are monecious, appearing in January on the ends of short lateral branchlets of the previous year. The fruit is reddish-brown or yellowish-brown that ripens in the early autumn and remains on the tree until spring. The bark is bright cinnamon-red, broken into irregularly ridges, and covered with closely appressed plate-like scales (Sargent 1961).
Required Growing Conditions
Calocedrus decurrens is native to the mountains from western Oregon in higher Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada to southern California and western Nevada. For current distribution, please consult the Plant profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
Adaptation Incense cedar prefers moist, well-drained, fertile soil. It grows best in full sun or light shade. This species is not tolerant of smoggy or wind-swept conditions (Dirr 1990). It shows good adaptability to different soil types (Ibid.). This tree is often found in mixed coniferous stands with sugar pine, ponderosa pine, Jeffrey pine, western white pine, white fir, and Douglas fir (Preston 1989).
Cultivation and Care
Propagation for Seed: Sow seeds in the early spring in a greenhouse. Seeds require a stratification period for about eight weeks at 32-40ºF for good germination. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, place them into individual pots to grow in a light shaded area in a greenhouse or cold frame for the first winter. Plant them out in the late spring or early summer.
General Upkeep and Control
Incense cedar has aromatic wood that resists insects and decay. Practically no pests attack the tree but in the forests where it is native, mature tree trunk are often infested with dry rot of the heartwood (Wyman 1965).
In its younger years, especially when growing strongly in the open, incense cedar forms an almost geometrically perfect pyramid, its lower branches nearly touching the ground, and the whole mass so densely overlapping that it sheds both rain and snow (Lemmon 1952). In old age, after battling the elements for perhaps a thousand years, it is far more irregular and picturesque, often with several summits trying to replace the old one destroyed long before lightening or a great wind (Ibid.).
Source: USDA, NRCS, PLANTS Database, plants.usda.gov.
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA