Differences Between Spruce & Fir Trees

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Spruce and fir trees are biologically close cousins that belong to the family of evergreens known as conifers, or cone-bearing trees. Both species inhabit northern or high-altitude regions where the weather is typically cold during winter.

Spruce and fir trees are biological cousins.
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At one time both species were referred to as fir trees. The distinction of spruce originated in Prussia during the 1300s as a reference to one specific type of tree—the spruce fir.

At one time both species were referred to as fir trees.
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Firs are often distinguished from their spruce cousins through the characteristics of their needles. Those of spruce trees are rather firm and rectangular when cut in cross section, while fir-tree needles are softer, flatter, and two-sided.

Firs are often distinguished from their spruce cousins by their needles.
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The cones of fir trees are erect and have scales that fall off in autumn. Spruce-tree cones hang more loosely and do not lose their scales.

Cones on fir trees are erect and have scales that fall off in autumn.
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Bark found on spruce trees is usually rough to the touch and becomes furrowed and scaly with age. Generally, the bark of a fir is smooth and grayish when young, but these also become more furrowed over time.

The bark of a fir tree is typically smooth and becomes furrowed over time.
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Due to the similarities between fir and spruce trees, their distinguishing features can best be found through a close inspection.

Distinguishing features between the two trees can best be found through a close inspection.
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