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Cone Bearing Evergreens - Incense Cedar

( Originally Published 1927 )



One tree, so magnificent in proportions that it ranks among the giants in our Western forests, stands as the sole American representative of its genus. Its nearest relatives are the arbor-vitaes, sequoias, and the bald cypress of the South.

The incense cedar (Librocedrus Decurrens, Torr.) has its name from its resinous, aromatic sap. The tree, when it grows apart from others, forms a perfect tapering pyramid, with flat, plume-like sprays that sweep downward and outward with wonderful lightness and grace. The leaves are scale-like, closely appressed to the wiry twigs, in four ranks, bright green, tinged with gold in late winter, by the abundance of the yellow staminate flowers. The cones are small, narrowly pointed, made of few paired scales, each bearing two seeds. The bark is cinnamon-red in color. The trees occur scattered among other species in open forests from three thousand to six thousand feet above the sea, reaching a height of two hundred feet and a trunk diameter of twelve feet on the Sierra Nevada glacial moraines.

The lumber resembles that of arbor-vitae, and is used for the same purposes. In cultivation the tree is hardy and thrives in parks in the neighborhood of New York. In Europe it has long been a favorite.



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