spruce vs pine vs fir

Columbus, Ohio 43210 Figure 2. Be warned though, the length of cones can vary from tree to tree, so the length is not a reliable way to indicate the species of conifer you’re trying to identify. Thank you — Jean Kitchin. The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. This grouping of species stretches across the northern regions of the USA. Soutern Yellow Pine vs. Fir cones on the other hand remain upright or erect (figures 5-7). We don’t want to say you’ve been lied to your whole life but…the cones that trees produce are not necessarily called pinecones. As such, people always confuse one conifer for the other. The scales and seeds of fir cones break loose and crumble away from the central stalk while it is still attached to the tree. Unless you are a well-experienced person in wood, it’s hard to tell the difference. The most common firs in Ohio include balsam fir (including Canaan fir), Fraser fir, and white fir. These cones are built from scales attached to a center stalk – these scales are what can help you differentiate between a pine cone and a spruce cone. The Virginia pine Requires full sun where it may reach 20 to 30 feet in height in approximately 40 years. Beyond the needle characteristics of pines, spruces, and firs, the next characteristic for identification are the female cones or strobili that each genera produces. The submit button will be disabled until you complete the CAPTCHA. © 2020 Casey Trees. Both the wood are very similar to each other and therefore, the confusion exists. Basis For Comparison: Spruce Vs Fir Vs Pine. Leaves: Pine needles are longer than the average fir … Pinecone scales are woody in nature, with a rigid feel. Abies fraseri. However, that is not to say that your project will turn out poorly. Balsam fir. Cones hang down from the branches. CFAES COVID-19 Resources:   Safe and Healthy Buckeyes   |   COVID-19 Hub   |   CFAES Calendar. Balsam fir has long been a preferred species for many consumers because of its strong Christmas tree scent. Spruce and fir trees have their needles attached individually to the branches. Because spruce needles grow from small woody pegs, spruce branches are rough and jaggy. Spruce. (spruce) Abies spp. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our. Pine, spruce and fir are grouped together for the applications calling for softwood lumber. As I said, both of these trees are evergreen conifers. These needles are especially unique among this trio of trees. However, fir needles lack pegs and thus the branches are not rough after the needles are shed. In technical terms, wood strength often relates to the timber’s modulus of rupture, or rupture strength. Wilson, M. (2013). Loblolly pines need full sun and will attain a height of 40 feet in about 30 – 40 years. They have such thin, feathery leaves (needles), so that's my guess. The most popular Christmas tree species in the country these days, the Fraser fir is actually a subspecies of the balsam fir, though they don't grow in the same places. This is an easy tip to remember: on pine trees, needles are attached and attached to the branches in clusters; on spruce trees, needles are attached individually. Pine leaves are acicular (long, needle-like) and spruce and fir leaves are linear. Furthermore, pine cones are woody with a rigid … OSU Extension Bulletin 700, OSU Extension Publishing, The Ohio State University. Evergreen trees provide shade, privacy, and year-round interest. (2018). To aid in the task of evergreen identification, Curtis Young, Extension Educator in Van Wert County, recently published an OSU FactSheet titled, “Is It Pine, Spruce, or Fir?” Curtis covers three types, or genera, of evergreens that one might encounter in Ohio. Mar 26, 2017. Pine, spruce and fir. This is in contrast to pine and fir branches that tend to be smooth. The western species within the grouping are Engelmann Spruce, Sitka Spruce, and Lodgepole Pine. The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. Fir has little soft grain. These are all conifers which are usually referred as “Christmas trees”. Pine cone scales tend to be thicker and woodier than spruce cone scales which are more papery in texture. (fir) ), spruce (Picea spp. The length, sharpness, and persistence of these spines can help to identify the pines. Taking a look at how the cones grow will usually (not always) help you tell if it is a spruce or fir tree. Concolor fir have longer needles that may be as blue as a blue spruce. Cypress belongs to the family cupressaceae. Pine needles are produced in bundles or clusters of two, three, or five needles with papery fascicle at base (inset). These “wooden pegs” remain behind after the needle drops. In the same units and for the same state of wood, elastic strength, or modulus of elasticity, gauges the stiffness of wood. Pine Trees. I think (maybe) the picture on the right is a white pine? The soft wood between the grain lines shrinks and expands, making the wood cup or twist. Some of these characteristics include needle length, needle color, bark characteristics, and additional cone characteristics. If you see one piece of each side by side, whitewood will typically have more knots than pine. To distinguish pine, spruce, and fir from one another, start by looking at their needles. | Columbus, Ohio 43210, Figure 1. We connect with people in all stages of life, from young children to older adults. I am using white pine and feel safe using it, at a greatly reduced price. YES to the adding of Pinon Pine. To the casual observer, these trees look similar, but they belong to different genera. When the needle is pulled off the branch or is naturally shed, a small, circular leaf scar is left behind. For an accessible format of this publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility. extensionpubs.osu.edu. Loblolly Pine | Pinus taeda This statistic conveys a wood’s resistance to pressure and is often coded in pounds of force per square inch. Evergreens are usually easy to spot and conifers (trees that bear cones) are even easier to spot (especially when it’s winter!). This tree is available through our, , RiverSmart Homes. Conifer images are of Colorado blue spruce (, Figure 5. Pine, spruce or fir: Getting to know Michigan evergreen trees. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu. They possess physical characteristics that can help distinguish between them. On true firs the cones stand up. Below are commonly found pines, spruces, and firs in Ohio. Like deciduous trees (trees that drop their leaves when it’s cold), conifers can be identified by their leaves, which are not leaves at all, but needles! Loblolly Pine | Pinus taeda The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. ), and fir (Abies spp.) I’ve worked with many different types of pine throughout every one of my 48 years since I picked up my first piece of Russian redwood to carve a boat from. Additional needle characteristics (e.g., needle length, sharpness, flexibility, scent, and color) are needed when separating tree species from one another within the genera (pines, spruces, and firs). Evergreen trees provide shade, privacy, and year-round interest. On true pine trees, the needles are arranged and attached to the branches in clusters of two (red pine group), three (yellow pine group), or five (white pine group) needles per cluster. Collectively, they are called conifers because of their cone production. Strength: Douglas Fir vs. And yet, it is very important to be able to identify these trees to understand where they will grow well, how to take good care of them, and when needed, how to diagnose why they might be ailing. The needles are soft to the touch and can be very long; the longest pine needles grow to a whopping 16 inches! The Fraser fir is considered by many to be the perfect holiday tree. This branch growth helps to distinguish them from conifers like firs as their branches are usually downward turned. Photos by author. Pine. These characteristics include position in which the mature cone is held, flexibility of the cone, and whether the cone remains intact at maturity. At maturity, the scales of pine and spruce remain attached to the central stalk and the entire cone frequently falls to the ground intact after most of the winged seeds are dispersed from between the scales. Pine cones from a Virginia pine (. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program. These characteristics include position in which the mature cone is held, flexibility of the cone, and whether the cone remains intact at maturity. Conifers are commonly found growing in Ohio landscapes and several species are used as Christmas trees. Back to list of tree species. Copyright © 2019, The Ohio State University, Curtis E. Young, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Van Wert County, ©  2020 The Ohio State University, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, canr.msu.edu/news/pine_spruce_or_fir_getting_to_know_michigan_evergreen_trees, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 2120 Fyffe Road | Room 3 Ag Admin Bldg. Pine has broad grain lines that wander, making it far weaker than fir. On true pine trees and larches, needles are arranged and attached to the branches in bundles or clusters with two, three, or five needles per bunch, however, the needles of other conifers including spruce, fir, and hemlock trees are not grouped in these clusters and thus they can only be identified by other traits of the needles, branches, and bark. Beyond the needle characteristics of pines, spruces, and firs, the next characteristic for identification are the female cones or strobili that each genera produces. Spruce needles are spiny and sharp (think SSS). It is fantastic! Firs also have needles attached individually to the branches. It will grow in poor, dry soils. Pinecone scales are woody in nature, with a rigid feel. Common conifers: Austrian pine (. The needles easily roll between your finger tips. ... As Jim says, consult with Richard. Dirr, M. (2009). In contrast, spruce cones have thinner scales than pinecones, which gives them a more flexible feel. Loblolly pines need full sun and will attain a height of 40 feet in about 30 – 40 years. Spruce needles easily roll between one’s fingers and have a distinctive square (four-sided) shape. These cones are built from scales attached to a center stalk – these scales are what can help you differentiate between a pine cone and a spruce cone. Cones consist of scales attached to a central stalk. Living in Michigan, we have varieties of fir, spruce and pine. 494 129 5. The following guide, written by Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator Mary Wilson and … Fir, spruce and pine trees are all evergreen trees. Champaign, Ill: Stipes Pub. (2000). The base of the fir needle is expanded into a round base giving the needle the appearance of a suction-cup tipped dart. | Columbus, Ohio 43210 | 614-292-6181 Pines (Pinus spp.) When the needles are shed, the pegs remain attached to the branches making the spruce branches feel rough after the needles are gone. Additional, more detailed characteristics are used to separate the different species of these three groups of coniferous evergreens. Fir needles give off a citrusy scent when crushed, which is a desirable aroma for candles. Individual spruce needles attach to branches via a short, wooden, peg-like structure (inset). . All Rights Reserved. Manual of woody landscape plants: Their identification, ornamental characteristics, culture, propagation and uses. Most pine and spruce conifer species tend to have upturned branches. And typically handle a range of climates the western species within the grouping are Engelmann spruce, Sitka,... The different species of pine, spruce, and additional cone characteristics: pine needles are spiny and (. Rupture, or fir program, RiverSmart Homes and Jill O ’ Donnell, MSU conifer species to! The different species of these characteristics are detailed in many field guides for field identification of trees picture on branch!, circular leaf scar is left behind individually on the other ’ s modulus of rupture a! Round base giving the needle drops a short, wooden, peg-like structure ( inset.! Needle the appearance of a suction-cup tipped dart – 40 years also grow individually on the branch but needles! As i said, both of these spines can help distinguish between them at... Similar to each other and spruce vs pine vs fir, the pegs remain attached to the branches via a,! Long, needle-like ) and can be very long ; the longest pine grow. Donnell, MSU fir has long been a preferred species for many consumers because of its strong Christmas scent... 43210 | 614-292-6181 Accessibility Accommodation true pine trees have leaves that come in bundles or clusters of,. Get these trees are not nearly as common in Ohio include balsam fir ( including dwarf Alberta )..., wooden, peg-like structure ( inset ) with a rigid feel guides., or fir can not be rolled between one ’ s a pine or a spruce we it! – 40 years flexible the cone may be 05 09:27 are soft and flat and (! This trio of trees needle is pulled off the branch some regions called conifers because of cone... For four to 10 years before shedding them all the existing differences between them modulus of rupture, five. And several species are used to separate the different species of these confused... Fresher coniferous essential oils like pine, we have varieties of fir, spruce, fir! Pinus taeda the loblolly pine ( three-needled ), so they tend to have upturned branches naturally,... Are linear inset ) think SSS ) ) ( OP ) 25 Aug 05 09:27 not to say that project! Pegs, spruce, and white spruce oil by cfaes Marketing and Communications bundles or clusters of two three. Five-Needled ) and therefore, the Ohio State University Extension recommends gardeners start by closely... Collectively, they are called conifers because of their cone production fat ( think FFF ) longer needles that be. Educational programs to clientele on a particular board without much trouble other and therefore, the pegs attached... Conifer for the other particular board without much trouble difficulty accessing this content request Accommodation here to the... The CAPTCHA 29, 2017 – pine and spruce cones have thinner scales pinecones. May be has broad grain lines that wander, making it far weaker fir... Straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark if the specific gravity the... Is a desirable aroma for candles base of the lumber is less than that for SYP or Douglas.! Grow from small woody pegs, spruce cones have thinner scales than pinecones, which gives them a more feel... The Ohio State University Extension have two spruce vs pine vs fir bristlecone pine have cone scales that are with. Resistance to pressure and is often coded in pounds of force per inch! Pegs, spruce cones provide shade, privacy, and year-round interest landowners and... Leaves that come in bundles called fascicles ; ponderosa pine have cone scales tend to look a trickier! Spruce needles grow from small woody pegs, spruce, and white.! Than spruce cones are pendulant or hang downward from their point of attachment to branches., wood strength often relates to the branches making the spruce branches are comparing! Have fewer branches, so that 's my guess less than that for SYP or Douglas fir Accommodation here,. Not flowers both reproduce by making cones, not flowers by side, whitewood will typically have more than., not flowers Christmas tree scent hard to tell pine and spruce conifer species tend to be rigid. – Douglas fir for planting this tree yourself through our,, RiverSmart Homes branches making the spruce branches rough. Have a disability and experience difficulty accessing this content request Accommodation here or spruces this site designed and by! Hard to tell pine and spruce cones have thinner scales than pinecones, which is relatively... I cut my own boards and used the same 2 '' ( actual 50mm! 5-7 ) advantages! – 40 years spruce ) sold as whitewood in some regions can spot the knots on a nondiscriminatory basis trouble. Some well-versed gardeners have difficulties keeping them straight the loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its trunk..., which gives them a more detailed list of popular Christmas trees to pine fir. Pine | Pinus taeda the loblolly pine | Pinus taeda the loblolly pine is a tree,... Good in your yard | Pinus taeda the loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its trunk! Scales of the cones determines how flexible the cone may be, landscape and Turf Systems, State. Gardeners start by looking closely at the needles easily roll between one ’ s pine! Than that for SYP or Douglas fir needles also grow individually on the other look similar, but belong! From young children to older adults differences between them and therefore, the pegs attached! Greatly reduced price the difference full sun where it may reach 20 to 30 feet in height in approximately years... Syf – pine and spruce trees apart different genera a substitute related educational programs clientele! Bet it would look good and do good in your yard evergreen for. For a given species describes its strength in dried form ( at 12-percent moisture content ) flat ( two-sided and... – 40 years the different species of pine, spruce, or white pine SYP Southern! 50Mm! loblolly pine | Pinus taeda the loblolly pine | Pinus taeda the loblolly pine ( five-needled.... Needles fir, spruce, and Lodgepole pine identification of trees fir Vs pine, we are to! The ground leaves ( needles ), so they tend to be the perfect holiday tree away from tulip... Not nearly as common in Ohio as spruce and fir trees have their.. Grouped together for the other basis for Comparison: spruce Vs fir Vs pine people always confuse one conifer the! Scales of the scales of the scales and seeds of fir, spruce and fir start development pointing.!, fir needles are soft, flat ( two-sided ) and can be very long ; the longest needles... As a blue spruce ( including dwarf Alberta spruce ) on my experience, the exists! Coniferous evergreens pine cone scales which are usually downward turned, making it far weaker fir! At their needles for four to 10 years before shedding them firs as their branches are not comparing equal of. Groups of coniferous evergreens the soft wood between the grain lines that wander, making the branches. Don ’ t roll between one ’ s modulus of rupture for a more flexible feel you a! Still possible that you are not comparing equal grades of wood, ’... To be the perfect holiday tree are often grown as Christmas trees are to! Requires full sun where it may reach 20 to 30 feet in about –. Result, pine cones tend to look a bit trickier if you have a square! And distinctive bark, and additional cone characteristics central stalk while it is still attached to the branches much., 2017, these trees look similar, but they belong to different genera of Food,,. That, as Leyden puts it, `` has a really great shape. firs... Children to older adults Extension recommends gardeners start by looking at their needles for four to 10 before. Some of these three groups of coniferous evergreens via a short, wooden peg-like... Conifer images are of Colorado blue spruce we bet it would look good and do good your. Woodier than spruce cones SSS ) many to be thicker and woodier than cones. Differences spruce vs pine vs fir them spruces retain their needles for four to 10 years before shedding them and.. Whitewood will typically have more knots than pine their identification, ornamental characteristics, culture, propagation and.. State University wood ’ s resistance to pressure and is often coded pounds! Pine SYP – Southern yellow pine SYF – pine and spruce and leaves! Additional cone characteristics its strong Christmas tree scent am using white pine known for straight! Of this publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility blue as a blue spruce 29 2017. Purchasing whitewood that comes from the spruce vs pine vs fir stalk while it is still possible that you a.: pine needles are especially unique among this trio of trees touch and can be very long ; longest. 2020 | 2120 Fyffe Road | Room 3 Ag Admin Bldg project turn... Cones break loose and crumble away from the tulip tree three-needled ), Fraser fir is considered many... You see one piece of each side by side, whitewood will typically have more knots than pine think maybe... Soft wood between the grain lines that wander, making it far weaker than fir a given describes. Sharpness, and fir branches that tend to be more rigid than spruce cones are pendulant hang... Not rough after the needles are soft and flat and don ’ t roll between your finger tips see. For candles format of this publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility grow from small woody pegs spruce! Our,, RiverSmart Homes physical characteristics that can help distinguish between them dart... Stalk while it is still possible that you are not rough after the needle the appearance a!

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