Wednesday, July 1, 2009

California Incense-cedar: Calocedrus decurrens

The California Incense Cedar (species: Calocedrus decurrens) is one of quite a few trees that are referred to as cedars. The images in this post are of a tree that I planted about ten years ago (it was from a nursery and was about 7 feet tall at the time). It is quite easy to confuse this tree with the Western Red Cedar if you don't get a good look at the seed cones.

The seed cones (above) have a unique shape that serves to easily identify this tree species and distinguish it from others that have similar scale like leaves. There is another image of the seed cone shape at the bottom of this post. The image below is of the pollen cones that are a lot smaller than the seed cones. They form on the terminal ends of the scale like leaves.

The conical shape and pleasant dark green color of this tree make it a fine choice as an ornamental tree species for parks and gardens.


  1. I transplanted one of these trees from my cabin and am wondering what kind of soil and water needs they have. My soil here has more clay and doesn't drain as well. Any help is appreciated. Thanks, John

  2. John, Incense Cedar tolerates a range of water from 15" up to several feet a year in its native fast draining soils. It is tolerant of clay mix soils but will struggle in heavy adobe or caliche. Where drainage is poor, keep the water on the slow side and accept slow growth, then it will probably work.

    Clayton Tschudy
    Tschudy Ecological Designs
    858 774 7692

  3. We have 2 cedar trees in our back yard. They are about 30 feet tall. The one with seed cones has more and more dry needles and branches. The soil is clay and the trees are on a drip system. We live in San Luis Obispo, Ca and have very dry summers. Is it possible that the tree does not get enough water? Thanks, Bilge

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