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California Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Libocedrus decurrens
  • Thuja decurrens
Phonetic Spelling
kal-oh-SEE-druss DEK-ur-enz
Description

In addition to its aromatic and showy foliage, this conifer sports interesting exfoliating gray-brown bark and showy male and female cones.  Its form is broadly conical with spreading branches. The branchlets are flattened and terminate in dense, fan-like sprays.  The dark green leaves emit an aromatic odor when crushed.  The small male cones are yellow.  The female cones are cylindrical and are composed of 6 paired, flattened, and pointed scales.  In early fall, as the female cones open, they resemble a ducks-bill.  They ripen in late summer at lower elevations and a month or so later when situated at higher elevations.

It will adapt to a variety of soils, however, it prefers moist, well-drained, fertile soil.  It typically does not develop winter burn.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Issues may include heart rot and rust.  A difficult tree to transplant.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aureo-variegata'
    Yellow variegation.
  • 'Berrima Gold'
    Yellow-green foliage, turning orange-gold in winter.
  • 'Columnaris'
    Upright, columnar cultivar.
  • 'Maupin Glow'
    Yellow and green foliage.
'Aureo-variegata', 'Berrima Gold', 'Columnaris', 'Maupin Glow'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#heat tolerant#native tree#conifer#winter interest#needled evergreen#dendrology#humidity tolerant#native#shearing#dry soil intolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aureo-variegata'
    Yellow variegation.
  • 'Berrima Gold'
    Yellow-green foliage, turning orange-gold in winter.
  • 'Columnaris'
    Upright, columnar cultivar.
  • 'Maupin Glow'
    Yellow and green foliage.
'Aureo-variegata', 'Berrima Gold', 'Columnaris', 'Maupin Glow'
Tags:
#fragrant#evergreen#heat tolerant#native tree#conifer#winter interest#needled evergreen#dendrology#humidity tolerant#native#shearing#dry soil intolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Calocedrus
    Species:
    decurrens
    Family:
    Cupressaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western U.S.A., Mexico
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Fragrance
    Screening
    Textural
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    heat and drought
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    No fruit, .75-in. seedbearing cones; reddish-brown in fall; remains until spring
  • Flowers:
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Conifer, no flowers
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Needled Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Shiny, dark green foliage in vertical sprays; holds color in winter
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Green
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Scaly
    Bark Description:
    The exfoliating, scaly bark provides winter interest.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Hedge
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Heat