Libocedrus decurrens, incense cedar seeds (Calocedrus)

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incense cedar seeds


Libocedrus decurrens is also known as Calocedurs decurrens. John Torrey described the plant for the first time and placed it into the genus Libocedrus. Round about 100 years later the plant was replaced into the genus Calocedrus where it still belongs to. Calocedrus decurrens is also known as incense cedar. It is native to California and Oregon, because of that it is sometimes called Californian incense cedar. Calocedrus decurrens grows as a tree and reaches a height of about 60 m. The treetop is thin and column shaped. The trunk reaches 3 m in diameter. The incense cedar grows slow and can get 500 years old or even older. The incense cedar grows mostly in small groups or solitary. Due to that it has almost no meaning for timber production. If used it is used for making pencils from the wood. The wood smells like incense. That's why the tree is called incense cedar. However the wood is not used as incense material. The leaves are needles and get only 15 mm long. They stay at the tree over winter. They stand in whorls and overlap each other in parts. If one rubs a leave it smells aromatic. Turpentine is responsible for that odor. The natives cook the leaves in water and inhale the vapor. That shall help against colds. In addition the natives use the wood to produce baskets. Therefore the wood is well suitable because it is very elastic. The incense cedar is monoecious. The male cones that are yellow to brown and the female cones that are brown to red brown are on the same tree. The seeds get 1 cm long and half a centimeter wide. They have wings and are distributed just like the pollen by wind.

The seeds of the Californian incense cedar need stratification. Therefore they should be mixed with some moist substrate, then stored in the fridge for about 2 months. The time until germination starts varies strongly. Furthermore the germination rate is just about 30 %. It is better to sow out a great number of seeds to get some seedlings. The Californian incense cedar is very robust. It can tolerate dry summers and extremely cold winters with temperatures down to minus 40 °C.

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