Highlight: Incense cedar

Incense cedar has very aromatic foliage.

Contributed photo

In the West, the incense cedar, Calocedrus decurrens, was made into cedar chests or paneling for cedar closets as a substitute for the more traditional Eastern red cedar, which, incidentally, is a big juniper. The wood is supposedly aromatic enough to repel moths from woolens and furs. The evergreen foliage is very aromatic as well, so is sometimes used for garlands at Christmas time.

Old trees in the wild can eventually get nearly 200 feet tall, with somewhat narrowly conical canopies. Yet, 100-year-old trees that were planted in urban gardens during the Victorian period are not half as tall yet. Some are quite narrow.

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The rusty brown bark is deeply and coarsely furrowed. Branches can sag downward and curve back upward, which looks rather disfigured. Flattened sprays of scale-like leaves resemble those of arborvitae.

Incense cedar is native to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains. -- Tony Tomeo

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