Distinguishing Features

Spruce [Picea)

Cone pendulous

Cone remains intact

Peg-like leaf bases remain on the stem when the leaves are shed

Fir (46/es) Cone erect

Cone scales become detached Entire leaves shed leaving a smooth disc-like scar on the stem

Abies Alba

ABIES ALBA Mill. (European Silver Fir) This species is a native of central and southern European mountains. It is a beautiful tree up to 160 feet high with a smooth grey bark which becomes scaly with age. The young shoots are downy and bear non-resinous buds. The spirally arranged leaves are up to an inch long, flattened, blunt dark green above and whitish below. The solitary erect cones are four to six inches long and each broad scale bears two winged seeds. It is an important forest tree on the Continent but is too subject to insect and fungal pests to be of economic value in Britain. Although sometimes grown in gardens it is not of great ornamental value. It has a durable white wood which is used in carpentry. (Pinaceae)

ABIES PINSAPO Boiss. (Spanish Fir) A native of the mountains of southern Spain, this fir is characterized by its rigid leaves which spread all round the stem. The buds are resinous and the young ridged stems are not hairy. The blunt stiff grey-green leaves are less than an inch long. The erect cylindrical violet-brown cones are usually borne singly and are four to five inches long.

It is a hardy tree in Britain and frequently planted in gardens but not often used for forestry. The wood is of no commercial value.

The Grecian Fir, A. cephalonica, is a similar species found only on high mountains of Greece. The leaves spread more or less all round the stem but are curved and have stiff terminal points. (Pinaceae)

Fir Grecian Cephalonica Abies

ABIES CONCOLOR Lindley & Gordon (Colorado While Fir)

This fir is a native of western United States where it may reach 100 to 150 feet in height. The buds are covered with resin and the narrow grey-green leaves are two to three inches long. The erect cylindrical cones are four to six inches long and purplish-blue or green before turning brown at maturity. It is an attractive ornamental tree which grows well in the wetter parts of Britain. Low's White Fir, A. lowiana, is a very similar species which may reach 250 feet in its native California.

There are some 30 species of Firs and several are attractive garden trees including the Caucasian Fir (/I, nord-mannia), the Algerian Fir (A. numidica) and the Giant fir (A. grandis). The latter is widespread in western North America and reaches a height of 300 feet. (Pinaceae)

Algerian Fir

PSEUDOTSUGA MENZIESII (Mirbel) Franco. (Douglas Fir)

Large forests of this species occur in the west coastal regions of North America where it may reach 300 feet in height. The trunk is covered by a thick furrowed bark and the lateral branches are long and pendulous. The soft narrow leaves are about an inch long and fragrant when bruised. The characteristic cone, which is two to four inches long, has thin seed scales and narrow tri-lobed bracts which project beyond them. The seeds are winged. This is an extremely important timber tree. It is hardy in Britain and often used in forestry. The wood is very variable in quality and is often attractively figured. (Pinaceae)

Long Skinny Branches Fir

PINUS SYLVESTRIS L. (Scots Pine) This species, a native in Britain, is widespread throughout Europe and northern Asia, and also in the United States where it was introduced. Young trees are pyramidal with whoried branches while old ones are more or less flat-topped. The narrow pointed bluish-green leaves are two to three inches long and borne in pairs at the tips of short dwarf shoots. The pendulous woody cones are two to three Inches long and open in June to release the winged seeds. Well over 100 varieties have been described.

It is of considerable economic importance as a source of yellow deal. The wood is light and durable and is often used in house building, furniture construction and for telegraph poles, pit props and railway sleepers, (Pinaceae)

Railway Telegraph Poles

PINUS MUGO Turra (Mountain Pine) This conifer has a wide distribution throughout the mountains of central and southern Europe including Spain. A number of varieties have been described and it also varies greatly according to habitat from a tree up to 75 feet high to a small prostrate shrub. The reddish-brown buds are encrusted with a white resin. The stiff curved dark green leaves are two to three Inches long and borne in pairs on dwarf shoots. The brown shortly stalked cones are up to two inches long and bear small seeds.

The Mountain Pine is very resistant to winds and cold and will grow in almost any soil. It is grown in Britain, especially in exposed situations in Scotland, as a protective cover for more important trees. (Pinaceae)

PINUS PINASTER Aiton (Maritime Pine) The Maritime Pine, also known as the Cluster Pine, is a native of the Mediterranean area where it reaches t20 feet in height. It is characterized by its deeply grooved, reddish bark and pairs of stout leaves which are up to eight inches in length. The hard brown pointed cones are four to eight inches long. They have no stalks and, although they may occur singly, are often borne in dense clusters.

It is not a particularly hardy tree but flourishes on siliceous soils on the south coast of England. It is very suitable for planting on sand dunes and by its use large areas of the Landes in France have been reclaimed. The wood is put to many uses and on the Continent it is the main source of resin and turpentine. (Pinaceae)

Drzewa Iglaste Jod

PINUS NIGRA Arnold (Austrian Pine, Corsican Pine) This coniier is widespread in the mountainous regions of southern Europe and Asia Minor. It has a straight trunk with a grey-brown bark and may reach 170 feet in height. The somewhat rigid leaves are borne in pairs and are four to six inches long. The pale brown cones are up to three inches long and often curved. It is an extremely variable species and several geographical subspecies have been described which are not always readily distinguished. The best known are the Austrian Pine (ssp. austriaca) and the Corsican Pine (ssp. cala-brica). Both are tolerant of a wide range of soils and they grow well in Britain where they are particularly valuable as wind breaks. The wood is hard and brittle and is much used in building work. (Pinaceae)

PINUS PINEA L. (Stone Pine)

The Stone or Umbrella Pine is a characteristic tree of the Mediterranean regions. It rarely exceeds 80 feet in height and has a broad rounded crown. The leaves, which are in pairs, are somewhat twisted and four to six inches long. The heavy ovoid brown cones are borne on thick stalks and are four to six inches long. They contain very large seeds.

Owing to its attractive habit it has been extensively planted in southern Europe. In Britain too it thrives where the soil is non-calcareous and conditions not too severe. The supple wood is not of great commercial value but the seeds are edible and provide an important component of a vegetarian diet. The seeds of the Tarentina Pine (v. fragilis} are particularly valuable as they have thin coats, (Pinaceae)

PINUS VIRGINIANA Mill. (Scrub Pine) This two-needled pine is a native of eastern North America where it is usually little more than 50 feet high. The rigid twisted leaves are up to two inches long. The conical cones are about two inches long and contain smalt seeds. Although it will grow in Britain especially on heavy soils it is of no commercial value and is not particularly decorative.

PINUS CONTORTA L. (Beach Pine) A native of the Pacific Coast of North America, this species varies from a small stunted bush to a tree up to 200 feet high. The leaves, borne in pairs, are pale green, twisted and up to three inches long. The ovoid cones are one to two inches long. The small form is used for stabilizing sand dunes but the Lodgepole Pine (v. lati-folia) is a valuable source of timber. (Plrtaceae)

Pinus Contorta Timber

PINUS PONDEROSA Douglas (Western Yellow Pine) This species covers waste areas of western North America where it often exceeds 200 feet in height. The yellowish-brown bark peelsoff in theform of large plates from old trunks. The crowded stiff curved leaves are eight to 10 inches long and borne in threes at the end ot dwarf shoots. The solitary or clustered reddish-brown ovoid cones are three to eight inches long. It grows rapidly and tolerates many kinds of soils. The hard strong wood, similar to that of the Scots Pine, makes it one of the most valuable timber trees in North America. Although it grows well in Britain and makes an attractive ornamental tree it is not used for forestry here. (Pinaceae)

Kiefer Baum

PINUS RIGIDA Mill. (Northern Pitch Pine) The Northern Pitch Pine Is a native of eastern United States where it forms a tree 50 to 80 feet high with a dark brown bark. The spreading stiff curved leaves are two to four inches long and are borne in threes at the ends of the dwarf shoots. The ovoid pale brown cones are about two inches long. This pine has the peculiarity of producing tufts of adventitious shoots from the sides of the trunk and from the stumps of felled trees. It will grow on poor soils but does not succeed very well in Britain and is little planted in gardens. In America the timber is used for building work and railway sleepers but is not of great commercial importance. (Pinaceae)

PINUS PALUSTRIS Mill. (Pilch Pine) This is a native of the Atlantic seaboard of North America from Virginia to Florida. II reaches 100 feet or more in height and has a reddish-brown bark. The slender flexible leaves are borne in threes and are about 12 inches in length, or up to 18 inches on young trees. The brown oblong cone is six to 10 inches long. The wood is extremely strong and is valuable for heavy construction work. The tree does not grow well In Britain except In the south-west. Other three-needled pines are:

P. sabiniana the Digger Pine, P. radiata the Monterey Pine and P. coulteri the Big-cone Pine, all of which are natives of California, The cones of the last named species are often over a foot long and weigh three to four pounds. (Pinaceae)

Digger Pine Seeds Open

PINUS ARM AND) Franch. (Armand's Pine) This tree is widely distributed in western China and has also been found in Formosa, It reaches a height ot 60 feet and has a straight trunk covered with a thin greenish bark and more or less horizontal branches. Each dwarf shoot bears a terminal group of five narrow leaves which are four to si* inches long and sharply bent towards the base. The brown pendulous lapering cone is four to seven inches long with broad triangular scales which open as soon as the seed is ripe. The few trees growing in England are subjecl to injury by frost. The Bhutan Pine, P. wallichiana, is very similar but the cone is not so stout. (Pinaceae)

Arolla Pine

PIN US CEMBRA L (Arolla Pine)

In central Europe the Arolla Pine occurs between 5000 and 8000 feet but in Siberia it occurs at lower altitudes. Naturally occurring trees are 60 to 120 feet high with stout lateral branches; in Britain it only attains 60 feet. The young shoots are covered with orange down and the glaucous green leaves, which are in fives, are about three inches long. The erect shortly cylindrical cones are up to three inches long. They are unusual in thai the violet-brown scales do not open, the wingless seeds being released when the cones rot or are broken by birds seeking food.

The seeds are edible and are regularly harvested In Switzerland and Siberia. It grows well in Britain but Is most flourishing in mountain areas. (Pinaceae)

Trees Native Britain

PINUS STROBUS L. (Weymouth Pine) This tree is a native of south-east Canada and northeast United States where it reaches a height of 160 feet. The narrow bluisfi-green leaves are three to five inches long and occur in groups of five at the end of dwarf shoots. The pendulous narrow cylindrical cone is four to si* inches long and often curved. The rounded scales are thin and soon open to release the narrowly winged seeds.

It is a valuable timber tree and though hardy in Britain it is subject to various pests and diseases when grown here. It owes its common name to the fact that Lord Weymouth planted it extensively at Longleat, Wiltshire, early in the 18th century.

Other five-needled species are the Macedonian Pine, P. peace, and the Sugar Pine, P. lambertiana, an American tree which reaches 250 feet, (Pinaceae)

This attractive deciduous tree, which reaches a height of 100 to 150 feet, is a native of the mountains of centra! Europe and northern Russia. The leaves are borne singly on young shoots and also in tufts on short shoots. They are flat, over an inch long, pale green in spring, changing to golden-yellow in autumn before they fall. The cones are red when young but when mature are brown, ovoid and one and a half inches long. There are a number of geographical forms and varieties differing in habit. It is a very hardy tree and can resist frost, snow and wind. It is an excellent forestry tree and is the most widely planted non-native tree in Britain. The wood is hard, of good quality and is extensively used for telegraph poles and in building work.

distinguishing features

Larch (Larhr> Cedar (Cedrus)

Oeciduous, leaves salt Evergreen, leaves rigid

Grand Fir Leaf

CBDRUS ATLANTICA Manetti (Atlas This handsome evergreen conifer is a native of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria. It is pyramidal in shape and reaches a height of 120 feet. The narrow stiff glaucous green leaves, up to an inch long, are borne on young extension shoots and in tufts on woody short shoots. The hard brown erect barrel-shaped cones are up to three inches long. The seeds are released when the scales break off during the winter. There are two similar species separated from this by slight characteristics. The Lebanon Cedar, C. lebani, has dark green leaves and cones three to four and a half inches long. The Deodar, C. deodara, is a native of the western Himalayas where it is found between 4000 and 10,000 feet. Its leaves are over an Inch long and the large cones are three to five inches long. The cedars ars hardy in Britain and if Qiven sufficient room develop i nto majestic trees. The durable strongly scented wood Is easy to work and Is put to many uses. (Pinaceae)

Pine Branch Stencil

TSUGA CANADENSIS (L.) Carrière (Eastern Hemlock) This tree is a native of eastern North America where it reaches 100 feet in height. Its Irunk is usually forked and the branches are slender and drooping. The narrow shortly stalked leaves are about yt inch long and are orientated in two ranks. The stalked ovoid cones are up to an inch long and bear few rounded scales. It grows well in Britain and is sometimes planted for decorative purposes but is not used in forestry. The wood is rather soil and is riot so useful as that of the Western Hemlock, T. heterophyllà. The latter is a native of western North America and reaches over 200 feet in height, it usually has a single trunk and a spire-like crown. The wood is tough and durable. It grows well throughout Britain and forms a handsome tree if given sufficient room. (Pinaceae)

Redwood Tree Identification

TAXODHjm DISTICHUM Richard. L.C.M. (Swamp Cypress)

This attractive tree is a native of th® south-eastern United States where it reaches a height of 100 to 150 feet.'It is deciduous, the slender shoots which bear the leaves being shed in the autumn. The narrow leaves are up to % inch long and are spirally arranged but lie in one plane so that the whole branchlet system is flat. The spherical greyish -purple cones are about an inch in diameter. They break up when ripe to produce the triangular seeds. When growing in marshy ground the roots produce curious hollow protuberances above ground known as 'cypress knees'.

The Swamp Cypress thrives in the southern parts of Britain and is often planted as an ornamental tree beside lakes and ponds. The wood is of good quality with a straight grain, durable and easy to work. (Taxodiaceae)

Ovule Taxus Baccata

TAXUS BACCATA L, (Common Yew) The Yew is a densely branched evergreen tree with a thick trunk; it grows up to 60 feet in height, ft occurs throughout Europe and as far as the Himalayas where it ascends to 11,000 feet. The narrow soft dark green leaves are about an inch long. There are separate male and female trees. The latter bear small solitary ovules which are pollinated in early spring. By the autumn when they are ripe each seed has a hard coat and is almost enclosed by a fleshy bright red aril. This tree is a native in Britain and is often common on chalk It is also often planted and some specimens are reputed to be 1000 years old. The hard springy wood is valuable and was formerly much used for making bows. The foliage and seeds have sometimes caused poisoning of cattle. There are many named varieties including the Irish Yew, v. fastigiata, and several closely related geographical species. (Taxaceae)

Sequoia Sempervirens Disease

SEQUOIA SEMPERVIRENS (L.) Endl. (Redwood) The Redwood is closely related to the Big Tree (p, 25) arid has a similar restricted distribution, mainly in California. It is an enormous tree reaching over 300 feet with a tapering trunk covered with a thick fibrous reddish-brown bark. The leaves on the main and cone-bearing shoots are like those of the Big Tree but on the lateral stems they are flattened, spreading and nearly an inch long. The reddish-brown cones are about an inch long and each woody scale bears several narrowly winged seeds.

In America the soft narrow grained wood is of considerable economic importance, especially for railway sleepers and fence posts as it is very durable when buried. It thrives well in Britain and is often grown as an ornamental tree but the wood is of poor quality. (Taxodiaceae)

Distinguishing Quality

GINKGO BILOBA L. (Maidenhair Tree) This interesting deciduous tree was introduced into Europe around 1730 from China where its continued survival appears to have been due to widespread planting by Buddhist monks. It is a slender pyramidal tree with a grey bark. The fan-shaped leaves have long stalks and are borne singly on extension shoots and in groups on woody short shoots. There are separate male and female trees. On the latter, pairs of ovules are borne at the ends of thin stalks. When mature each ovoid seed is over an inch long with a thick yellow fleshy outer coat which has a strong disagreeable smell. It grows well in Britain and is often planted for ornamental purposes. Production of seeds has only occurred rarely in Britain, This is a single isolated species which, on fossil evidence, has existed for many millions of years. (Ginkgoaceae)

Was this article helpful?

+2 0


  • birgit
    What are the names and distinguishing characteristics of the tree groups found in north america?
    7 years ago
    What distinguishing features are on a swamp?
    6 years ago
  • Jana
    What are some distinquishing features of an eastern white pine?
    2 years ago

Post a comment