Renowned naturalist, John Muir, exclaimed: "no waving fern-frond in shady dell is more unreservedly beautiful in form and texture, or half so inspiring in color and spicy fragrance." This rhapsody was referring to Incense cedar, a stately evergreen of western North America that slowly grows to a height of 70 to 100 feet or more in the wild, and 40 to 60 feet in landscapes. Its form is a narrow cone and at full maturity its width may be no more than 8 feet. Its great beauty is derived from the foliage which is a bright green that is especially nice when contrasted with its equally striking red bark. In color and in its sentry-like shape the tree is handsome and probably one of the best ornamental conifers available. Unfortunately, photos rarely capture its handsomeness. But, if it is seen first hand, especially if sited near other conifers, an Incense cedar stands out fresh and bright.

In addition to its beauty, the Incense cedar has many practical traits. It is evergreen with branches extending to the ground, making it an excellent candidate for windbreak or privacy screen. Also, it is beneficial to wildlife as the small cones, produced at branch tips, provide a treat for many varieties of birds. Although growth is slow, Incense cedars are extremely long-lived, surviving 500 to 1000 years, definitely qualifying it as a Heritage choice. Its wood has been used for such things as chests, cigar boxes, door and window frames, furniture and interior finish.

It is more tolerant of dry sites than most conifers and, being narrower, it requires less room in the garden..

It is a rarely encountered but highly desirable conifer that will grow throughout most of the United States, the UK, New Zealand and much of Australia. As always, a tree this rare is not likely to be found in the large discount nurseries, but more likely found in the select plant nurseries or from mail-order tree nurseries.

Incense cedar


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