This time of year there seems to be an abundance of pines, spruces, firs, conifers and evergreens around every turn. So, whats the difference between all of these piney partners mentioned above? Turns out alot, and it can get confusing!
Here are some terms to get us started:
evergreen: An evergreen keeps it color all season. They also have constant foliage. Not all evergreens are pines! Other evergreens include yews, rhododendrons, boxwoods, spruces, firs and hemlocks.
conifer: Cone-bearing woody plants. Examples are cedars, firs, cypresses, junipers, larches, pines, redwoods, spruces and yews.
Not all conifers are evergreens (Tamaraks loose their needles).Â Some evergreens aren’t conifers (Rhododendrons).
What is a pine?
An evergreen. A pine is a coniferous (cone-bearing) tree.Â Their needles come in bundles of two to five, and are attached by a papery wrap called a fascicle.
What is a spruce?
An evergreen. A spruce is also a coniferous (cone-bearing) tree.Â Their needles are attachedÂ to the stem singly.
What is a Fir?
An evergreen conifer.Â They can be identified by their soft foliage attachedÂ by a suction-cup shaped base, and erect cones. Some Firs include Frasier Fir,Â Noble Fir, Red Fir, Balsam Fir and Siberian Fir. Douglas Fir are not considered a true fir because they belong to a different genus. Firs also tend to have dense, tight cones.
What is a Hemlock?
Evergreen conifers belonging to the genus Tsuga.Â Hemlocks can handle shade and are very drought tolerant. Around West Michigan you can see them growing on the slopes of our Maple-Beech forest ravines. They have light, wispy apperance to the branches, and soft leaves (note that they are not classified as needles).
I hope that this has begun to clear things up a bit… Practice your pine and evergreen spying as you shop for your trees and wreaths this winter and are wandering in the woods this fall!