Maupin Glow Incense Cedar

Maupin Glow Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens “Maupin Glow”) – 11/2013 – shortly after planting

I’ve loved Incense Cedars since I was young.  I grew up in central California just an hour from the Sierra Nevada mountains where this tree is native.  I have many fond memories of wandering among them in mixed groves of Fir, Pine and Giant Redwoods.  It’s got thick deep reddish brown bark and the crushed leaves smell wonderful – hence the name Incense Cedar.    The wood is very fragrant as well and has many uses.

It’s not a true Cedar, those are Cedrus.  They’re very different trees, but many trees are called cedars that really aren’t.  It only matters to botanist types I’d guess.  That’s why we use botanical names instead of common ones.  You can’t know for sure what it is unless you use the botanical name.  They’re in Latin and in use world wide so people all over the world know the same tree.  Sometimes I come across websites from Europe in different languages so the Latin name is essential.

This tree was discovered by a man near Maupin, Oregon who thought it was on fire.  As you’ll see in other photos it gets to be a pretty bright yellow as it grows older, so I can see why he felt that way.  It was about 7′ tall in this photo and the websites all say it will only grow to become 15′ tall x 5′ wide.  As you’ll see it gets quite a bit bigger than that, and it does it fast!  There’s not much yellow on this tree – the new growth is yellow but changes to green as it ages.  What you see here is older foliage before the Spring when the whole tree is bright yellow.

10/2014

It grew about a foot this first year in the ground.  It’s grown much faster as it’s aged.  Not much yellow on it yet.  Just wait!

7/2015

I wish I’d had a more elegant place to plant this than next to the neighbor’s broken down garage and our compost, recycling and trash bins.   At least it has room to get as big as it wants.  You can see a bit of yellow now on the top branches.  10′ tall.

5/2016

It’s growing a couple of feet this year – now about 12′ tall.  It’s got a lot of yellow on the top now and it’s getting much wider.  I love the way the branches come out on the sides.  Too bad the garage doesn’t let it grow on that side as much.

10/2017

You can really see the yellow on it now.  It’s about 14 1/2 ‘ tall – almost “full size” according to the websites, tho in all fairness I should note that usually those sizes are approximate 10 year sizes.  Only one place I saw said it would get as big as the species in a garden – 50′ or 60’.   I hope it does – I can’t wait!

7/2018

I love how this looks against the grey sky.  The yellow is striking isn’t it?  It’s up to 16 1/2′ tall and 9′ wide, a bit bigger than the 10 year size in 7 years of growth here.  It has a lot of yellow on it now, and it’s enough to stay yellow all year at this point.

2/2019 – Snowmageddon!

In February of last year we had a Huge snowfall for the Seattle area.  Over a foot and more in places.  That’s a lot for us.  This tree did alright because it’s so limber it just bent instead of breaking like others did.  It was a heart breaking time for me – we lost one tree completely and others had big branches break or bent so that I had to prune them off.  Nature sure does teach gardeners a lot about loss.  It’s hard to lose trees you’ve nurtured for years and have come to love.  A bitter lesson.

7/2019

18′ tall x 12′ wide, with a lot of yellow that stays all year now.  I’ve had to prune a couple of small branches off the side over our garage.  That’s about it.  It’ll be able to grow all it wants now, tho the neighbors’ garage inhibits it on the left side as you can see.  It’s big enough that you can see it over the garage when you’re in the garden proper, and from the street as well. It’s definitely getting a lot bigger than 15′ x 5′!  It’s only had 8 years to grow here so far.  In 20 years it’s gonna get Big!

8/2020

I took this photo yesterday.  It’s about 20′ tall and 15′ wide!  It’s got a DBH (diameter at breast height) of over 8″, thus making it a “special” tree that can’t be cut down without the city’s permission, not that we ever would of course!  I mention it mainly because Seattle is trying to increase our tree canopy to over 30%, and larger conifers like this one are the best carbon sinks we’ve got.  This tree will help ameliorate the effects of climate change as it grows, as will a few others in the garden.

I’m so excited by this tree.  Unfortunately you can’t see the bark here, but it’s a deep reddish brown and it flakes off as it ages.  Even tho the ones I grew up with were all green this tree still reminds me of my youth and the many times I spent running around the forest learning the trees and other plants.  Nature has always been my best teacher, tho I’ve studied in school and worked in nurseries and run my own landscaping biz.  My times in the woods have been the most instructive.

This tree is now on the way to becoming the large tree I’ve hoped for here.  From a design perspective it provides a strong exclamation point to the South side of the property.  It’s outside the gates and not in the garden itself.  It stands on its own at the edge and makes a nice border for the property.

In nature Incense Cedars grow well over 150 feet tall but only get 20 -30 feet wide.  In a garden it’ll only grow to 50′ or 60′ tall and 20′ or less wide.  It’s narrow enough to not offend the neighbors or get too far over our own garage.  I planted it thinking it would only get 15′ tall x 5′ wide.  I’m so glad all those websites were wrong.  This is a wonderful tree and I’m so grateful to have it growing in our little Wildlife & Nature Sanctuary.  It adds a unique color and texture to the whole garden.

I hope you enjoyed watching this beautiful tree “glow” as it grows,

Steve

2 responses to this post.

  1. What a wonderful story of your tree, Steve. I could see the glowing red bark in one of your photos xx

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