Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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Evergreen Identification - Thomas deHaas


This week we will look at tree id of evergreens. Next week we will explore deciduous trees. Obviously, evergreens are easier since they retain their needles or leaves. Deciduous or woody ornamentals can present a greater challenge since they lose their leaves or needles in the fall.


If you look at tree id as a year-round activity, some of the trees that can create a challenge in winter, can be easily identified at other times. If you commit to embracing tree id as a four-season activity, observing the tree in spring, winter, summer, and fall (even going as far as to label it), you can become proficient at tree id.


Starting with evergreens, there are narrowleaf and deciduous. In Ohio, we have narrowleaf evergreens including pine, spruce, fir and in some areas, hemlock. Our broadleaf evergreens include holly, some magnolias, and in some areas like northeast, Ohio, Rhododendron and Azaleas.


The narrowleaf group include Pine, Spruce and Fir. I will not cover all genus and species in each group but the most common.


White Pine, Pinus strobus, which is our only 5 needle pine in Ohio.


Two needle pines include Scotch and Austrian.


Scotch Pine, Pinus sylvestris, (sometime called Scots Pine). This is a tree that can grow fairly tall and will develop an orange-red bark with age. Since Scotch Pine, a two-needle pine is prone to pine needle scale, many times it can help in identification.


Austrian Pine, Pinus nigra, has been widely planted as a tree used as a screen, that can tolerate some salt spray. Unfortunately, Austrian pine has been on the decline due to a fungal infection, Dothistroma needle blight.


Firs in general, have grown in popularity. Canaan Fir, White Fir, and in some cases, Nikko Fir are planted in the landscape. One additional fir, which not actually a true fir, is Douglas Fir.


Canaan Fir, Abies balsamea ‘Canaan’ has become a very popular Christmas Tree and is gaining popularity in the landscape.


White Fir, Abies concolor, is gaining popularity in the landscape and can tolerate a higher ph than most evergreens.


Nikko Fir, Abies homolepis, is not readily available but can grow into an attractive tree.


Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii, can be a good selection as an evergreen.


Onto the Spruce as a group. Common spruce includes Colorado Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, and Dwarf Alberta Spruce.


Colorado spruce, Picea pungens, is found in the landscape. The Colorado Blue Spruce is well known for needles having a blue-green color. In recent years, some of these trees have succumb to fungal infections of Rhizosphaera needle cast.


Norway Spruce, Picea abies, has gained much popularity in the landscape.


Draft Alberta Spruce, Picea glauca ‘Conica’, is a common shrub found in the residential landscape.


Don't want to leave out my FAVORITE evergreen tree Canadian Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis.


A few broadleaf evergreens can include holly, azalea, and rhododendron.


American Holly, Ilex opaca can become a small tree in the landscape.


Blue Holly, Ilex × meserveae ‘Blue Princess’ and ‘Blue Prince’ is a common shrub found in the landscape.


Azalea and Rhododendron are mostly found in northeast Ohio due to the requirement of lower ph of 5-6.


Sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, is semi evergreen in Ohio.


I know I did not talk about ALL evergreen plants. Sorry if I missed your favorite!


So put on your boots, zip up your coat, put on your hat and gloves and get out and look for evergreens!


And Stay Warm!!!!


This video is geared toward elementary youth:

Tree identification for kids- Pine, Spruce, Fir:

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