About Incense Cedar Trees

The incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens) is native to the mountains of the far west. The natural range extends from near the Columbia River in Oregon south to northern Baja California in Mexico and east to western Nevada. The incense cedars in the wild thrive in a wide variety of conditions. The annual rainfall average within the natural range varies widely at from 15 inches per year up to 80 inches per year. This indicates that the species can tolerate from near desert conditions to near rainforest conditions. Incense cedars in the wild grow from an elevation of 2000 feet up to 7000 feet and to a height of 150 feet. The shape is conical and symmetrical. In older trees the trunks are tapered from a broad base with trunk diameters of up to 7 feet. The bark is thick and fibrous, a cinnamon-red in color, and furrowed. The heartwood is a reddish brown, soft, light, fine grained, and pleasantly aromatic. The wood contains substances that retard decay and repel moths. The wood is traditionally used for cedar chests, siding, interior paneling, shingles, decking, pencils, and fence posts. The foliage of the incense cedars is a yellowish green in color arranged in flattened sprays. The foliage is aromatic lacing the nearby air with a pleasant scent on a warm day. 

According to the Sunset New Western Garden Book the incense cedar grows in zones 1-12 and 14-24, excluding only the low deserts of the southwest, and will tolerate poor soils.

The incense cedar is a slow starter. In the first 2 years the incense cedar trees here in the nursery will only reach a height of about one foot. They reach 3 feet in the third year and 6 feet in the fourth making the incense cedar a 4 year crop in a 15 gallon container.