Here I sit looking out the window at all the wonder that surrounds us. The trees are swaying gently in the breeze. I listen and hear only the sounds of birds singing and can admire the vast forest fading into the distance. What a glorious day and what a beautiful place. No, I’m not at home but rather enjoying the cooler temperatures of our nearby mountains.
We are fortunate enough to have a summer cabin near Mineral which is a quick and pleasurable change from our home in the valley. However, some major changes have recently taken place. With an emphasis on fire mitigation, we chose to remove 33 white fir and pine trees from our lot. This caused us to take a good look at the remaining trees which include pines, firs, and cedars. This also got me thinking about the growing zones in Tehama County.
Most of the articles I have written have been specific to plants grown in Zones 8 and 9. Tehama County also has areas of zones 7 and 1A, which include the foothills (7), the Sierra Nevada and in the Cascades (1A). The good news is that there are also micro-zones which explains why the California Incense Cedar (Calocedrus Decurren) grows so beautifully in and around Mineral, even though Mineral is listed as near Zone 1A (around Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park,) and cedars are listed as growing in zones 2 through 10.
The California Incense Cedar is an evergreen and can be found from west central Oregon and as far south as Baja California and even into western Nevada. It has bright green foliage and a brownish red bark. The name Incense Cedar comes from the odor of the wood which has a pungent but pleasant smell. Its flat leaves grow in clusters and it is closely related to the Arborvitae. These Cedar trees grow to be about 190 feet tall with a spread of about 60 feet.
The Cedar is one of the sturdiest and one of the most forgiving of all the evergreen trees. It is both drought and fire tolerant and can survive in almost any type of soil. The California Incense Cedar produces small cones. The female cones provide two winged seeds yearly, while each spring the male catkins send out copious amounts of yellow pollen - what a mess!
Although the wood of the California Incense Cedar tree is soft, it is also rot resistant and is widely used for fences, fence posts, shakes, shingles and siding. Most of us have had or seen a cedar chest, but did you know that the wood of a lead pencil is also the product of the cedar tree?
Cedars grow equally well in the valley. In fact, there are five growing in our yard. So, if you live anywhere in Tehama County you can be sure that the California Incense Cedar will flourish in your landscape. But, because of its size at maturity (100+ years) you may want to think twice before planting a California Incense Cedar or you can just let the grandkids deal with the fall out.
The Red Bluff Garden Club is affiliated with the Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Clubs, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Clubs and Natural Garden Clubs Inc.