Tag Archives: conifer

Montezuma Pine (Pinus montezumae)

Montezuma Pine, is a species of conifer that is native to Mexico and Central America, where it is commonly known as Ocote. The tree grows about 100 feet high and its canopy can reach 35-40 feet wide; occasionally it may reach a height of 130 feet.

Its rounded crown is complimented by the slightly drooping needles. The needles are born in fascicles of 5 with occasionally 4-6 and are quite irregular in thickness with some rather thick and others thin. The bark is dark brown-grayish, deeply fissured. Bark on young trees is a reddish brown rough and scaly.

The cones on this pine are also quite variable in size , usually slightly curved 4-6inches long and 3-4 inches wide when they have fully opened.

The specimen pictured in these photos is located at the Washington Park Arboretum, Seattle. (GPS: +47° 38′ 16.84″, -122° 17′ 37.19″)

[nggallery id=12]

Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Kaizuka’)

Hollywood Juniper - source: Flickr user:hortulus

The Hollywood Juniper is a cultivated variety originating in Japan. Hardy to zones 3-9 it is a conifer that grows to a height of 25 feet and 15 feet wide. Regularly chosen for use as a specimen in the landscape. This evergreen conifer has blue-green cones and a combination of juvenile and adult foliage. Once established this selection has great drought tolerance and often suffers if planted in areas that receive too much water. When planted in well drained soils and full sun exposure you can anticipate that this tree will perform well. Continue reading Hollywood Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Kaizuka’)

Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Habitat.—Cold soils, borders of swamps, deep woods, ravines, mountain slopes. USDA Zones 3-7.

Habit.—A large handsome tree, 50-80 feet high; trunk 2-4 feet in diameter, straight, tapering very slowly; branches going out at right angles, not disposed in whorls, slender, brittle yet elastic, the lowest declined or drooping; head spreading, somewhat irregular, widest at the base; spray airy, graceful, plume-like, set in horizontal planes; foliage dense, extremely delicate, dark lustrous green above and silver green below, tipped in spring with light yellow green.

Bark.—Bark of trunk reddish-brown, interior often cinnamon red, shallow-furrowed in old trees; young trunks and branches of large trees gray brown, smooth; season’s shoots very slender, buff or light reddish-brown, minutely pubescent.

Winter Buds and Leaves.—Winter buds minute, red brown. Leaves spirally arranged but brought by the twisting of the leafstalk into two horizontal rows on opposite sides of the twig, about ½ an inch long, yellow green when young, becoming at maturity dark shining green on the upper surface, white-banded along the midrib beneath, flat, linear, smooth, occasionally minutely toothed, especially in the upper half; apex obtuse; base obtuse; leafstalk slender, short but distinct, resting on a slightly projecting leaf-cushion. Continue reading Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)

One of the very few deciduous conifers, the Dawn Redwood is a great tree. Its pyramidal habit and straight trunk in youth become broader and rounded as it ages. Hardy in zones 4-8.

The 1/2″ long and 1/16″ wide needles of this conifer are arranged oppositely along the rather slender branchlets. They emerge as a bright green and fade to brown and even orange brown in the fall. Red-brown bark in youth it becomes fissured, darker and exfoliates as it matures. Small cones 3/”-1″ long and pendulous and mature in the first year.

Growing rapidly this tree can reach heights of 50 feet in a period of 15-20 years. It will reach 80-100 feet at maturity. Needless to say this is a tree you wouldn’t plant in your small residential landscape, but rather it is best suited to large open areas, such as parks, schools, etc. Makes a nice summer screen, as the needles do fall in the winter.

A rather easy to grow tree preferring moist well drained slightly acidic soil. Readily transplanted as a youth and is often grown balled and burllaped in the nursery trade. With no real know disease or pest problem, I would not hesitate to plant this for fear of infestation. There have been a few cases of Japanese beetle eating the foliage but nothing of real consequence.

Notable Varieties:
‘National’ – Narrow – pyramidal growing variety.

‘Sheridan Spire’ – Rather upright.


Bristlecone Pine (Pinus aristata)

Native to the southeastern United States, the Bristlecone pine also referred to as the Hickory Pine. This tree is considered to be one of the oldest living plants on the earth, some specimens have been documented to be upwards of 5,000 years old. Definitely a slow grower, this tree can withstand harsh soils and exposed locations, hardy to zone 4. In habit this tree will reach 10-20 feet tall and have an irregular form. (It will take years to reach this size.) The needles are borne fascicles of five and are blue-green in color. They are often covered in spots of resin and are persistent for many years. (Upwards of 15-20 years)

This tree is suitable for use in the landscape, as it will maintain a small scale, does ideally well in a rock garden. Performing best in the sun this plant is not picky of the soil acidity so long as there is plenty of positive drainage. Care should be given to the location of the planting, as this tree is not tolerant of poor air quality.

An ideal focal plant, this is a hard one to come by in the nursery trade not because it is difficult to propagate, it germinates readily, rather because of its slow growth does not allow the nursery to turn a crop as fast as they would like to. You may have luck finding it from a specialty conifer grower.

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

Hardy to zone 3 this tree is the largest growing native tree in eastern North America. The flexible, blue green needles’ are 2 to 5 inches long and are found in fascicles of five, persisting for a year and a half. The cones are narrow 1.5 to 2 inches wide once open and 3 to 6 inches long. Preferring well drained soil and cool, humid climates it can reach heights of 50-80 feet. In some instances these trees will reach even greater heights. I have witnessed this tree do well in many situations it is not limited to those site conditions, however I have seen this tree to yellow in alkaline soils.

With a preference for full sun the Eastern White Pine will tolerate some shade and is quite intolerant of urban pollution.Although susceptible to storm damage and two rather serious pests White Pine Blister Rust and White Pine Weevil these drawbacks do not weaken my recommendation of this tree. In my opinion this tree is well suited to be used in large open areas such as parks or campuses in rural and urban areas.