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Calocedrus decurrens

(Incense Cedar)


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Interesting Facts

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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Chinese:

北美翠柏 (bei mei cui bai)

Common Names in Danish:

Californisk Flodceder

Common Names in English:

Incense Cedar, Bastard Cedar, Bastard-Cedar, California Incense Cedar, California Incense-Cedar, Californian Post Cedar, Californian Post-Cedar, Californian White Cedar, Incense-Cedar, White Cedar

Common Names in Finnish:


Common Names in French:

arbre à encens, calocèdre à encens, cèdre à encens

Common Names in German:

Fluß Zeder, Kalifornische Weirauchzeder, Weihrauchzeder

Common Names in Hungarian:

Kaliforniai gyantáciprus

Common Names in Italian:


Common Names in Polish:

Cedrzyniec kalifornijski

Common Names in Portuguese:

cedro branco de califórnia, Cedro do incenso da califórnia

Common Names in Russian:

Калоцедрус низбегающий, калоцедрус низбегающий (kalotsedrus nizbegayushchij)

Common Names in Spanish:

Cedro Incienso

Common Names in Spanish, Castilian:

Cedro bastardo, Cedro incienso


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Family Cupressaceae

Trees or shrubs evergreen , monoecious or dioecious. Leaves decussate or in whorls of 3, scalelike and then often dimorphic with flattened facial leaves and keeled lateral leaves, or needlelike particularly in juvenile plants , often with an abaxial resin gland . Pollen cones terminal or axillary , solitary, maturing and shed annually; microsporophylls 6-16, decussate or whorled , each bearing (2 or) 3-6(-9) pollen sacs ; pollen wingless. Seed cones usually terminal, solitary, globose , ovoid , or oblong , dehiscent or indehiscent when mature in 1st or 2nd(or 3rd) year; cone scales developing after ovules originate in bract axils; bracts almost completely enveloped by cone scales, free only at apex; ovules 1-numerous per bract axil, erect ; cone scales of mature cones 3-16, flat or peltate, woody, leathery, or succulent, 1-20-seeded. Seeds winged or not; wings derived from seed coat . Cotyledons usually 2, rarely 3-6. Germination epigeal.

Nineteen genera and ca. 125 species: worldwide; eight genera (one introduced ) and 46 species (16 endemic, 13 introduced) in China.[1]

Genus Calocedrus

Trees evergreen , large. Branchlets flattened, in fan-shaped flattened sprays . Leaves opposite in 4 ranks (although apparently in whorls of 4). Adult leaves dimorphic , appressed , overlapping, scalelike, lateral leaves overlapping facial leaves, free portion of long-shoot leaves to ca. 3 mm; abaxial glands present. Pollen cones with 6--8 pairs of sporophylls, each sporophyll with 4 pollen sacs . Seed cones maturing and opening first year, ellipsoid , 17--30 mm; scales persistent , (2--) 3 pairs, oblong and basifixed , thin and woody; proximal pair reduced, sterile , often reflexed or lacking; median pair fertile ; distal pair connate , sterile. Seeds 2 per scale, lenticular , unequally 2-winged; cotyledons 2. x = 11.

Species 3: North America, Asia with 1 in Taiwan and 1 in s China and Myanmar.[2]

Physical Description

Species Calocedrus decurrens

Trees to 57 m ; trunk to 3.6 m diam. Bark cinnamon brown, fibrous , furrowed and ridged . Branchlet segments mostly 2 or more times longer than wide, broadening distally. Leaves 3--14 mm, including long-decurrent base , rounded abaxially, apex acute (often abruptly), usually mucronate . Pollen cones red-brown to light brown. Seed cones oblong-ovate when closed , red-brown to golden brown, proximal scales often reflexed at cone maturity, median scales then widely spreading to recurved, distal scales erect. Seeds 4 or fewer in cone, 14--25 mm (including wings ), light brown. 2 n = 22. [source]

Habit: Evergreen . • Growth Form: Single StemShape and Orientation: Conical

Flowers: Bloom Period: Late SpringFlower Color: inconspicuous, none

Seeds: Seed per Pound: 14400 • Seed Spread Rate: Slow • Seedling Vigor: Low • Fruit/Seed Abundance: Medium • Fruit/Seed Color: Brown • Fruit/Seed Conspicuous: No • Cold Stratification Required: Yes

Foliage: Foliage Color: Green • Foliage Porosity Summer: Dense • Foliage Porosity Winter: Dense • Foliage Texture: CoarseFall Conspicuous: No • Leaf Retention: Yes


Active Growth Period: Spring and Summer • Mature Height (feet): 150.0 • Maximum Height at 20 Years (feet): 12 • Size: over 40' tall. • Vegetative Spread Rate: None • Lifespan: Lifespan


Care: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system . Watering can be reduced after establishment. Feed with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth begins in spring .


Montane forests ; 300--2800 m [3].

Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 2,147 meters (0 to 7,044 feet).[4]


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Duration: PerennialCoppice Potential: No • Progagated by Bulbs: No • Propagated by Bare Root: Yes • Propagated by Container: Yes • Propagated by Corms: No • Propagated by Cuttings: No • Propagated by Seed: Yes • Propagated by Sod: No • Propagated by Sprigs: No • Propagated by Tubers: No • Fruit/Seed Period Begin: Summer • Fruit/Seed Period End: FallFruit/Seed Persistence: No


Culture: Space 10-12' apart.

Soil: Adapted to Medium Textured: Adapted to Medium Textured Soils • Adapted to Coarse Textured Soils: Yes • Anaerobic Tolerance: None • Salinity Tolerance: None • CaCO3 Tolerance: Low • Minimum pH: 4.7 • Maximum pH: 7.1 • Fertility Requirement: Medium

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Full to partial sun • Shade Tolerance: Intermediate

Moisture: Drought Tolerance: Medium • Minimum Precipitation: 20 • Maximum Precipitation: 80 • Moisture Use: Low • Water Requirements: Once established needs only occasional water.

Temperature: Minimum Temperature (F): -33 • Minimum Frost Free Days: 100 • Heat Zones: High: 9 (>120 to 150 days) Low:1 (< 1 days) (map) • Cold Hardiness: High:8 (10 to 20 F) Low:5 (-20 to -10 F) (map)


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Libocedrus decurrens Torr. • Thuja craigiana A. Murray Bis • Thuja decurrens (Torr.) Voss


Publishing author : Florin Publication : Taxon v. 192 (1956)

Basionym author: (Torr.)

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Calocedrus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 5 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

C. decurrens (Incense Cedar) · C. decurrens 'Aureo-Variegata' (Incense-Cedar) · C. decurrens 'Berrima Gold' (Incense-Cedar) · C. formosana (Taiwan Incense-Cedar) · C. macrolepis (Chinese Incense Cedar)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 25, 2007:



  1. Liguo Fu, Yong-fu Yu, Robert P. Adams & Aljos Farjon "Cupressaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 4 Page 62. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. John W. Thieret "Calocedrus". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  3. "Calocedrus decurrens". in Flora of North America Vol. 2. Oxford University Press. Online at [back]
  4. Mean = 748.950 meters (2,457.185 feet), Standard Deviation = 596.560 based on 226 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06