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Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar)
Reveal, James L.

Calocedrus decurrens

Calocedrus decurrens (Torr.) Florin

Incense Cedar, Incense-cedar

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Heyderia decurrens, Libocedrus decurrens

USDA Symbol: CADE27

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Incense-cedar is a majestic, evergreen tree with flat sprays of aromatic, bright-green foliage, a conical crown, a straight trunk, and cinnamon-brown bark. Though is usually does not exceed 60 ft. in cultivation, specimens in the wild can be twice as tall. Although stands of young trees are killed by fire, the very thick bark protects mature trees.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Inflorescence: Catkin
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Height 50-100 feet, spread to 50 feet.
Leaf: Green to yellowish.
Fruit: Reddish-brown, urn-shaped. 3/4 to 1 inch long.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: CA , NV , OR , UT
Native Distribution: CA, OR & w. NV
Native Habitat: Wooded, mt. slopes & canyons

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, mesic soils.
Conditions Comments: The growth rate of incense cedar is remarkably fast when young (to 20 ft.) but slows to a crawl thereafter. The tree can live up to 1000 years. The tree appears to do well in a wide variety of moisture and temperature conditions.


Use Medicinal: Leaves decocted to treat stomach ailments, steamed to treat nasal congestion and colds.
Use Other: An important timber species, Incense Cedar is also the leading wood for the manufacture of pencils, because it is soft but not splintery, and can be sharpened in any direction with ease. The aromatic wood is also used for cedar chests and closets.
Fragrant Foliage: yes


Propagation Material: Seeds , Softwood Cuttings
Description: Progeny come well from seeds or cuttings.
Seed Collection: Cones, each containing up to four seeds, mature in one season. The winged seeds are one in. long and 1/3 as wide.
Seed Treatment: Stratification for 30-60 days at 37-41 degrees improves germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1986 VOL. 3, NO.3 - Fall Planting Tips, Growth Provides Enthusiasm, 1985 Financial Facts, Gathering ...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Calocedrus decurrens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Calocedrus decurrens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Calocedrus decurrens


Record Modified: 2018-08-30
Research By: TWC Staff

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