top of page

Incense Cedar

Scientific Name:

Calocedrus decurrens




Mountain areas


Western United States


Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is


to the Truckee Meadows.


Incense cedars are conifers in the Cypress family (Cupressaceae) that can grow to a height of nearly 200 feet with a trunk diameter of nearly 4 feet. They can be identified by it’s vertically fissured bark and scale-like foliage that is soft to the touch. The seed cones are small, usually bearing only two seeds per cone.

Fast Facts:

  • Incense cedars get their name from the aroma released when its foliage is crushed, which gives off a scent similar to shoe polish.

  • Indigenous American tribes of California used incense cedars for medicinal purposes, baskets, bows, and to create fire.

  • A current common use for incense cedars is in pencils, as the wood is soft and resists splintering.

  • Incense cedar trees are fairly adaptable, but tend to grow in moist, well drained soil with full sun or light shade. They can be found in the Truckee Meadows area growing in mixed conifer stands along with Jeffrey pines and fir trees.

  • Incense cedars grow primarily in the Western United States, from Oregon to California. The Truckee Meadows area is at the far Eastern edge of their native range. The tree can grow in a large range of altitudes from 160 to 9,500 feet above sea level.



James Hada (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

June 16, 2021 at 9:00:36 PM

bottom of page