Calocedrus Species, Bastard Cedar, Incense Cedar, White Cedar

Calocedrus decurrens

Family: Cupressaceae (koo-press-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Calocedrus (kal-oh-SEE-druss) (Info)
Species: decurrens (DEK-ur-enz) (Info)
Synonym:Heyderia decurrens
Synonym:Libocedrus decurrens
Synonym:Thuja craigiana
Synonym:Thuja decurrens




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:

Medium Green


over 40 ft. (12 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

15-20 ft. (4.7-6 m)

20-30 ft. (6-9 m)


USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From semi-hardwood cuttings

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:


Fremont, California

Paradise, California

San Diego, California

Willits, California

Grand Junction, Colorado

Moscow, Idaho

Hanna City, Illinois

Louisville, Kentucky

Taylorsville, Kentucky

Roslindale, Massachusetts

Springfield, Missouri

Syracuse, New York

Cincinnati, Ohio

Klamath Falls, Oregon (2 reports)

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Spokane, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Dec 18, 2018, Sown_ja from Moscow, ID wrote:

Has anyone measured the soil pH near the drip line of their Incense Cedars? I have several mature ones edging my yard in inland coastal northern Calif (Willits). I have just moved here. That part of the yard has a lot of composted cedar duff, so I'm guessing the pH will be pretty low, and could benefit from a light sprinkling of ash from my wood stove. Will be buying pH strips soon, to test various parts of the yard--especially before I plant garlic. This is an highly versatile tree, thriving in wide range of high & low temps and available water. For some reason, it is not common at my location--but will learn why eventually. A surprising location where it has done well: planter strip next to hot summer asphalt, no irrigation, and winter temps of (previous) Zone 5 in Moscow, Idaho.


On Dec 21, 2015, JRinReno from Reno, NV wrote:

Incense Cedar grows very well in the Reno, NV area. I have also had success planting it in the Twin Falls/Jerome, Idaho area. This species will tolerate the cold of Northern NV and Southern ID; it tolerates much heat and requires no supplemental irrigation in the above areas once it is established. I intend to try planting seeds in SW Montana in the next year or so. In the eastern Sierra Nevada, it grows in association with Ponderosa Pine. In general, I have found it to be a rather "slow growing" species, but the lack of need for supplemental irrigation off-sets any negatives associated with its slow growth. In Idaho, I planted both 15 gallon and 2-1 seedlings in late spring, both sizes were watered by hand 2 times per week the first summer, then 1 time per week the second summer and... read more


On Mar 7, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The Arnold Arboretum (Boston, MA Z6a) has several handsome specimens, one at least 40' tall. All are columnar, and look a bit like arborvitae (Thuja). They hold their foliage differently, and shed snow more effectively---Thuja occidentalis often suffers snow damage here (at least the common cultivars do), but I've never seen the incense-cedar damaged by snow.

I understand that in California, in the wild, Calocedrus assumes a wide variety of shapes and forms. All the Calocedrus I've seen in cultivation are columnar. Where a columnar evergreen is wanted, in eastern Massachusetts, I'd choose an incense-cedar over an arborvitae.


On Aug 30, 2011, ogon from Paradise, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Incense Cedars are native throughout California and can be found in warmer zones than the listed zone 8b. They are native in abundance to my zone 9a climate, and thrive in full sun or part shade with no summer irrigation.


On Apr 20, 2010, sladeofsky from Louisville, KY (Zone 6b) wrote:

Far superior in my opinion to the more common large Thujas. It is both sturdier and more graceful. An excellent hardy conifer for the South and Midwest where weather conditions can limit the number of growable conifers.


On May 3, 2007, braun06 from Peoria Heights, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I planted a 3.5' tall specimen last summer. It is a nice texture and color. I saw some really nice ones at the Spring Grove Cemetary in Cincinnati, Ohio a few years ago. It isnt very well known in the midwest and therefore not planted here. California Incense Cedar has very interesting bark to offset the foliage. It handled our winter lows of -8F over the winter with light browning on the lower branches. I assume this is typical since many evergreens shed old leaves as new growth begins It seems to be a late starter in the spring for Growth as it is the last thing to start growing in the yard out of many different woody plants.


On Mar 16, 2007, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Calocedrus decurrens INCENSE CEDAR EG (z5) (WNa,Fra,Bon)
"No waving more beautiful in form & texture, or half so inspiring in color & spicey fragrance"(J.Muir) as the bri-grn sprays of this majestic pyramidal tree with its reddish, deeply-furrowed bark. S/M-D


On Aug 13, 2004, lbu2881919 from Klamath Falls, OR wrote:

Slow growing tree to 150 feet . Native to the mountains of Oregon and California south to Baja . A beautifully shaped tree it is very desirable as a landscape tree and is used often here in Southern Oregon .


On Nov 16, 2002, Baa wrote:

A tall growing tree from Western North America.

Has scale like, deep green, glossy leaves. Bears yellow to bronzy female cones that ripen to a deep reddish brown.

Loves well drained soil in sun or light shade.