WSU Clark County Extension

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Incense Cedar

Scientific name: Calocedrus decurrens

Type:Coniferous trees
Plant Requirements
Zone:5 to 8
Plant Characteristics
Height:75 ft
Width:15 ft
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description As a Northwest native, incense cedar grows from the tip of southern California all the way up to the Canadian border, but does best in the Cascade Mountains. It is prized for its tall majestic, and narrow shaped form.

Incense cedar, while technically a true cedar, is an evergreen, with a narrow columnar shape when young and attains a height of 70-110’ at maturity. It has flattened branchlets which terminate in dense, fan-like aromatic sprays. Foliage is dark green all through the year. Needles are persistent, scale-like and arranged in decussate pairs, yellow-green and without bloom. Incense cedar differs from western red cedar in that the scale leaves are borne in whorls of four. Overlapping facial scales form a wine goblet shape. Individuals leaves are typically 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, sets of four are several times longer than wide. Overlapping facial scales form a wine goblet shape.

Cones are about 1 inch long and appear to have 3 semi-woody scales (actually 6) which are yellowish brown when mature, resembling a duck's bill when closed and a flying goose when open.

The bark on incense cedar is purplish red, thin and scaly when young, increasing to several inches thick and developing rich reddish brown color with age. Older trees display mature bark that is furrowed with long, interlacing ridges.

Incense cedar does best on well-drained, slightly acidic sandy loams in cool, mountainous areas. It prefers full sun but can withstand partial shade. Outside its natural range it tends to stay smaller and bushier. Incense cedar needs lots of moisture to realize its full potential as a large tree. If it gets less water than ideal it will survive, but remain as a smaller, bushy, but still attractive specimen. In the Northwest incense cedar does not display the winter browning that is noted on western red cedar (Thuja plicata).

None reported.
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