Calocedrus decurrens
Common Name: incense cedar
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Native Range: Western United States
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 30.00 to 50.00 feet
Spread: 8.00 to 10.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Fragrant, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest

Culture

Best grown in deep, moderately fertile, moist but well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Soils should not be allowed to dry out. Appreciates a location protected from drying winter winds. Tolerates shearing. Although native to western North America, this incense cedar does very well in the East and is surprisingly tolerant of summer heat and humidity.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Incense cedar is an aromatic evergreen conifer with upright branching that is narrow-columnar in youth but may broaden with age to conical sometimes with a rounded crown. It is native to the Cascades, Sierras and coastal ranges, usually scattered in mixed conifer forest on western slopes, from Oregon to California, southwestern Nevada and northern Baja California. In the wild, it may grow to 100-150’ and live to 1000+ years. In cultivation, it typically grows shorter to 30-50’ tall. Flattened branchlets in fern-like sprays are covered with overlapping, lustrous, rich green, scale-like foliage in whorls of four. Foliage has an incense-like aroma when crushed. Reddish-brown, deeply-furrowed, scaly bark appears on mature trees. Solitary fruiting cones (to 1” long) ripen in summer at the branchlet ends. Although small, cones are very distinctive and are commonly described as resembling duckbills when they open to release their seed. Synonymous with and formerly known as Libocedrus decurrens.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Heart rot and rust may occur in some areas.

Garden Uses

Large specimen tree. Screen, windbreak or hedge.