How to See the Difference Between Evergreen Trees


Viewing evergreens from a distance, you see an array of blues and greens. However, you need to get close to individual trees to actually see the differences among them. Some have long needles, while others have short, flat or multi-sided scales instead of flat, wide leaves. Some scales stick directly to their branches, while others use a stem to reach the branch. Use the color of the leaves as an additional identifying factor.

Things You'll Need

  • Yardstick
  • Tree field guide book
  • Determine if the tree has long needles or short scales. Needles would indicate pine trees, and scales would point to, perhaps, a fir or, maybe, a spruce tree.

  • Count the number of long needles in a cluster. For example, five needles in a cluster, or fascicle, may key down to a White Pine. Two needles in a fascicle may tell you that the tree is an Austrian Pine

  • Establish that the scales are flat. Turn them over and see the same bright green on the underside that you see on top. This, probably, means that it is a false fir or called a Jack Fir.

  • Place the flat scales between your fingers and observe the white underside. Also, notice that the scale-leaf is attached directly to the branch. One example of this structure is the true fir or Balsam Fir.

  • Squeeze the flat scale-leaves between your fingers as well as enjoy the whitish color underneath. Examine a single scale and verify that it has a short stem that adheres to the branch. This could identify the tree as a member of the Hemlock tree family.

  • Roll the scale leaves between your fingers. Ascertain that they are, definitely, four-sided. This gives away that it is a Spruce tree. Take one step back and look for a decided bluish tone. The famous Colorado Blue Spruce has gained a reputation as a show stopper.

Tips & Warnings

  • Walk around the tree looking for cones. Long or small cones as well as their shape may reveal a lot about their originator.

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  • "A Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs"; George A Petrides; 1972
  • "Trees And Shrubs Of The Upper Midwest"; Carl Otto Rosendahl; 1955
  • Tree Identification
  • Photo Credit Roine Magnusson/Photodisc/Getty Images
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