Conifer Tree Information

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Eastern Arbor Vitae: Cedar, White (Thuja occidentalis):

Also known as northern white cedar.  A native, dense, pyramidal evergreen tree with a height of 40-50’ and a width of 10-20’.  Needles are soft, scale-like, flat, aromatic when crushed.  A long-lived, sturdy tree with a slow to moderate growth rate.  Shallow, fibrous root system.  Excellent for windbreaks as it creates a dense wall.  Will tolerate poorly drained soils and moderate shading. Links:  MN Tree Handbook; North Dakota Tree Handbook; The Right Tree HandbookMN Dept of Transportation Plant Selector

Cedar, 'Techny' arborvitae'  (Thuja occidentalis "Techny")  

Very similar to native 'Arbor Vitae" (above), except that it has a medium growth rate with dark green foliage.  It is very winter hardy and drought resistant.  Will stay green well into winter.  Can be sheared to shape when used as a hedge or privacy screen.  Grows well in full sun or light shade.  Height of 15-20 feet; width of 8-10 feet.  When young, it grows bushy but when it gets 3-4 feet tall it grows more pyramidal. Links: MN Dept. of Transportation Plant Selector; Missouri Botanical Garden;

Fir, Balsam (Abies balsamea)                     

A tree native to the northern MN and Canada, is used for pulpwood and construction lumber.  Height of 40-75’ and width of 15-25’.  A popular Christmas tree noted for long needle retention after harvest, color, and pleasant fragrance.  Leaves are needle-like and flat.  Attractive pyramidal shape.  Short lived species (50-70 years).  Very shade tolerant, but needs ample moisture.)  Links: MN Tree Handbook; The Right Tree Handbook; Ohio DNR; Virginia Tech, MN Dept. of Trans. Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America; Wood Bin-wood characteristics

Pine, Norway (Pinus resinosa)                   

Also known as the Red Pine, is our State Tree.  A native, extremely cold hardy tree with a height of 50-80+’ and width of 20-40’.  Moderate to rapid growth rate.  Intolerant of shading.  Wood used for timber, poles.  Long needles, 4-6” long in pairs.  Cones are 2” long.  Grows best in sandy, well drained soils, but will grow in poorer, dryer soils than most pines.)  Links: ​MN Tree Handbook; The Right Tree Handbook; Virginia Tech, Ohio DNR; MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America; Ontario Trees

Pine, White (Pinus strobus)

An excellent native timber, wildlife and Christmas tree.  Height of 80-100+’ and width of 50-80’.  Adaptable to most sites, but prefers well drained moist soils.  Long lived.  Intermediate shade tolerance (most tolerant pine).  Needles are 3-5” long and in groups of 5, very soft and flexible.  Wood used for lumber, pulpwood, veneer, poles.                   

Links: ​MN Tree Handbook; The Right Tree HandbookVirginia Tech, Ohio DNR; MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America; ontariotrees.com

Spruce, Black Hills (Picea glauca var. densata)   

A large, very dense and pyramidal tree with a height of 30-60’ and width of 15-25’.  A variety of White Spruce that is more hardy and drought resistant.  Needles are 1/3 to ¾” long)                

Links: ; North Dakota Tree HandbookMN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector;

Spruce, Colorado Blue (Picea pungens)    

A stiffly pyramidal evergreen with a height of 50-100+’ and width of 20-30’.  Growth rate is slow.  Needles are 1-1 ½” long with very sharp tips.  Color range from green to silver-blue.  Prefers well drained, moist soils, but will tolerate dry conditions.  Susceptible to several diseases including Rhizosphaera needle cast.)                  

Links: MN Tree HandbookNorth Dakota Tree Handbook; The Right Tree Handbook;  Ohio DNR; Virginia Tech; MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America;

Spruce, Norway (Picea abies)      

A large tree with a height of 80-100+’ and width of 20-35’.  Tallest and fastest growing spruce.  Shade tolerant, prefers moist well drained soils.  Cones up to 6” long.  Needles are ½ to 1” long, pointed but not sharp.  Wood used for pulp and lumber. Links: MN Tree HandbookThe Right Tree HandbookOhio DNR; Virginia Tech; MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America; Ontario Trees

Spruce, White (Picea glauca)  

A very hardy, adaptable, native tree with a height of 40-80’ and width of 20-30’.  Growth rate is fairly rapid.  Needles 1/3 to ¾” long, blunt tipped, producing a rank odor when crushed (deer don’t eat it).  Used for timber, wildlife habitat, windbreaks, and Christmas trees.  Grows best on medium to heavy soils, tolerant of shade but likes full sun.Links: ​MN Tree Handbook; The Right Tree HandbookVirginia Tech, Ohio DNR; MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; USDA Forest Service Silvics on North America;

Tamarack (Larix laricina)    (Not available in 2020)  

A native confir tree with a height of 50-75+’ and width of 15-25’.  One of the few conifers that loses its needles each winter, turning bright golden yellow before falling. Soft bright green needles regrow each spring.  Normally found in boggy sites, grows well in upland sites.  Tolerant o fpooly drained soils and fairly drought tolerant.  Not shade tolerant.  Rapid growth rate. Links: MN Tree Handbook;  MN Dept. of Trans Plant Selector; Ontario Trees & Shrubs;