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Incense Cedar
Calocedrus decurrens

About Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) Calocedrus decurrens (California Incense-cedar; syn. Libocedrus decurrens Torr.) is a species of conifer native to western North America, with the bulk of the range in the United States, from central western Oregon through most of California and the extreme west of Nevada, and also a short distance into northwest Mexico in northern Baja California. It grows at altitudes of 50-2900 meter. It is the most widely-known species in the genus, and is often simply called Incense-cedar without a regional qualifier. It is a large tree, typically reaching heights of 40-60 meter and a trunk diameter of up to 3 meter (maximum, 69 meter tall and 4.5 meter diameter), and with a broad conic crown of spreading branches. The bark is orange-brown weathering grayish, smooth at first, becoming fissured and exfoliating in long strips on the lower trunk on old trees. The foliage is produced in flattened sprays with scale-like leaves 2-15 millimeter long; they are arranged in opposite decussate pairs, with the successive pairs closely then distantly spaced, so forming apparent whorls of four; the facial pairs are flat, with the lateral pairs folded over their bases. The leaves are bright green on both sides of the shoots with only inconspicuous stomata. Easy to grow in the garden but requires plenty of room. If given deep, infrequent watering when young it will develop drought tolerance.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
12 - 196.9 ft (3.7 - 60 m)

Max. Width
50 ft (15.2 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Moderate, Slow


Flower Color

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Varied, tolerates a wide variety of rainfall levels, soil types over most of California

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
37' - 13935'

Annual Precip. ?
10.2" - 158.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.17" - 5.94"

Coldest Month ?
11.6° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
34.8° F - 79.3° F

Humidity ?
0.18 vpd - 27.84 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers deep woodland soil with high organic content

Soil PH
5.0 - 7.6

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Serpentine Soil


Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -5 - -10° F

Sunset Zones ?
1, 2*, 3, 4*, 5*, 6*, 7*, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Due to its adaptability to varying conditions and locations throughout the state, Incense Cedar has a great many companion plants.

Wildlife Attracted
Many insects and birds are attracted to Incense Cedar

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low, Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Deep Organic, Organic with Rocks

Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: 2 mos. stratification; No treatment may give good germination (USDA Forest Service 1974).

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Librocedrus decurrens

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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