California Incense Cedar, Calocedrus decurrens
This towering California Incense Cedar is native to the Pacific Northwest. The tree is not a true Cedar but belongs to the Cypress family and is also referred to as a False Cedar. It was named State Champion in 1998 by the Texas Forest Service, and there are none larger currently registered in Texas. It stands tall in the Garland Memorial Cemetery in Garland, Texas, in a section known as the Knights of Pythias Cemetery. The tree grows on one of three adjacent cemetery sections which were first used for burials in 1883. The section where the tree stands was opened in 1900 and served as the final resting place of many early pioneer families.
According to the April 8, 1999 story in The Garland News by Michael H. Hayslip, Garland native Don Bell recalls traveling by wagon with his grandfather William B. Bell and this tree from the cedar-dotted family farm to the cemetery. He watched as his grandfather planted the tree by the Bell Family plot around the year 1932. Though Bell has no recollections of the origins of the tree, according to an article in On Track, the newsletter of the Garland Landmark Society, legend has it the the seeds were possibly brought back from California by cousins.
According to the United States Forest Service, Incense Cedars are evergreens that can grow 67 ft. to 187 ft. tall and up to four feet in diameter. The 1990 Garland News article documents a height of this Incense Cedar at 63 ft. in height with a crown spread of 29 feet and a trunk circumference measuring 90 inches. These trees grow slowly and are extremely long-lived, with the oldest documented by the USDA Forest Service at over 500 years old. This species can tolerate extremes of moisture and temperature but prefers summer drought, which might explain its longevity in Texas hot summers.
You are welcome to visit the Cedar Incense tree, but please be respectful of the area, as it is an active cemetery.
The State Champion Incense Cedar tree is located in the corner of the Garland Memorial Park Cemetery along South Garland Avenue just north of Miller Road in Garland, Texas.