spruce vs pine vs fir

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With so much to choose from, let’s focus on two common conifers – the pine tree vs spruce tree – and how each one might be of interest to you. 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. Evergreens are usually easy to spot and conifers (trees that bear cones) are even easier to spot (especially when it’s winter!). Spruce. 3). forestry.ohiodnr.gov/fir (Accessed 11-8-2018). Cones hang down from the branches. SPF – Douglas fir, spruce, or white pine SYP – Southern yellow pine SYF – Pine and fir. Evergreen trees provide shade, privacy, and year-round interest. For an accessible format of this publication, visit cfaes.osu.edu/accessibility. Evergreens may look alike for most people. OSU Extension Bulletin 700, OSU Extension Publishing, The Ohio State University. Cones consist of scales attached to a central stalk. The Virginia pine Requires full sun where it may reach 20 to 30 feet in height in approximately 40 years. In contrast, spruce cones have thinner scales than pinecones, which gives them a more flexible feel. It boasts attractive … Its narrow form allows it to occupy a variety of yard spaces, and over time its crown of attractive green needles spread out to provide shade below. Fir tree needles also grow individually on the branch but the needles are soft and flat and don’t roll between your fingertips. I cut my own boards and used the same 2" (actual 50mm!) Conifer images are of Colorado blue spruce (, Figure 5. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program. 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. There are now 10 species that make up the SPFs grouping with the eastern half containing Red, Black, and White Spruce, Norway Spruce, Balsam Fir, Jack Pine, and Red Pine. Spruce jechols (Structural) (OP) 25 Aug 05 09:27. When the needle is pulled off the branch or is naturally shed, a small, circular leaf scar is left behind. | Columbus, Ohio 43210, Figure 1. Spruces retain their needles for four to 10 years before shedding them. Pine needles are produced in bundles or clusters of two, three, or five needles with papery fascicle at base (inset). Strength: Douglas Fir vs. Fir. Figure 3. Sydnor, T. D. and W. F. Cowen. Pine and spruce are so closely related in strength and uses with fir that they are often milled, distributed and marketed generically as spruce-pine-fir, or SP&F. Spruce needles easily roll between one’s fingers and have a distinctive square (four-sided) shape. CFAES COVID-19 Resources:   Safe and Healthy Buckeyes   |   COVID-19 Hub   |   CFAES Calendar. The most popular species fall into three categories; pine, spruce, or fir. I am using white pine and feel safe using it, at a greatly reduced price. Spruce and fir trees have their needles attached individually to the branches. Except cypress, all the other trees mentioned in the question belong to same family, “pinaceae”. Spruce needles are spiny and sharp (think SSS). Mature pine and spruce cones are pendulant or hang downward from their point of attachment to the branch. We don’t want to say you’ve been lied to your whole life but…the cones that trees produce are not necessarily called. . However, fir needles lack pegs and thus the branches are not rough after the needles are shed. Loblolly pines need full sun and will attain a height of 40 feet in about 30 – 40 years. Common pines in Ohio include Austrian pine, eastern white pine, loblolly pine, mugo (Swiss mountain) pine, pitlolly pine, red pine, Scotch pine, and Virginia pine. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our, Often used as a bonsai specimen, the Virginia pine is a unique and attractive tree with a sinuous trunk and orange-red bark. Basis For Comparison: Spruce Vs Fir Vs Pine. Fir cones are seldom found intact on the ground. Pine has broad grain lines that wander, making it far weaker than fir. Fir needles give off a citrusy scent when crushed, which is a desirable aroma for candles. Photo credit: Bert Cregg and Jill O’Donnell, MSU. True pine trees will have needles in clusters of two, three, or five. The examples being Virginia pine (two-needled), loblolly pine (three-needled), and eastern white pine (five-needled). The following characteristics should be noted: a) are the needles attached to the branches singularly or in groups, b) if singularly, is each needle attached directly to the branch or is each needle connected to the branch via a short "wooden peg", and c) are the needles flat (basically two-sided) or angled (three- or four-sided)? On true firs the cones stand up. Most pine and spruce conifer species tend to have upturned branches. Additional, more detailed characteristics are used to separate the different species of these three groups of coniferous evergreens. Post Nov 18, 2016 #1 2016-11-18T02:48. Figure 2. Fir trees are not nearly as common in Ohio as spruce and pine. As I said, both of these trees are evergreen conifers. are all types, or genera, of medium to tall (60-200 feet), evergreen, needle-bearing, cone-producing trees that have a conical or pyramidal shape. It is fantastic! Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. When the needles are shed, the pegs remain attached to the branches making the spruce branches feel rough after the needles are gone. Living in Michigan, we have varieties of fir, spruce and pine. 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! Photos by author. For instance, the Silverado Slim has medium green tips, while the Scotch Pine has a combination of dark and light green foliage. The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. Always grow in clusters from a single origin point on a branch. These characteristics include position in which the mature cone is held, flexibility of the cone, and whether the cone remains intact at maturity. The soft wood between the grain lines shrinks and expands, making the wood cup or twist. Dirr, M. (2009). Unless you are a well-experienced person in wood, it’s hard to tell the difference. Pine. To the casual observer, these trees look similar, but they belong to different genera. Balsam fir has long been a preferred species for many consumers because of its strong Christmas tree scent. Columbus, Ohio 43210 The thickness or woodiness of the scales of the cones determines how flexible the cone may be. Of the 125 species that exist, most are hardy and typically handle a range of climates. 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). Fir cones on the other hand remain upright or erect (figures 5-7). Back to list of tree species. 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 a result, pine cones tend to be more rigid than spruce cones. based on my experience, the SYP is stable as long as it's protected during construction. The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our tree rebate program. Pine cone scales tend to be thicker and woodier than spruce cone scales which are more papery in texture. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu. The Virginia pine Requires full sun where it may reach 20 to 30 feet in height in approximately 40 years. Non-Profit Web Design and Development by New Media Campaigns. Pine cones from a Virginia pine (. Pinecone scales are woody in nature, with a rigid feel. They have such thin, feathery leaves (needles), so that's my guess. Concolor fir . Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. Loblolly Pine | Pinus taeda The loblolly pine is a relatively fast-growing evergreen known for its straight trunk, upright form and distinctive bark. Fraser Fir. Balsam fir . This tree is available through our, , RiverSmart Homes. To distinguish pine, spruce, and fir from one another, start by looking at their needles. Its narrow form allows it to occupy a variety of yard spaces, and over time its crown of attractive green needles spread out to provide shade below. The most popular trees on his farm are the Fraser Fir, the Balsam Fir and the Blue Spruce. canr.msu.edu/news/pine_spruce_or_fir_getting_to_know_michigan_evergreen_trees (Accessed 11-8-2018). 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. Spruce needles tend to be stiff and sharply pointed making them somewhat unpleasant to work around when doing yardwork, pruning or removal, or decorating. Those three include: Pinus spp. Female cones of pine, spruce, and fir start development pointing upward. Many species of pine have cone scales that are armed with spines or prickles. That means that they both reproduce by making cones, not flowers. The needles are soft to the touch and can be very long; the longest pine needles grow to a whopping 16 inches! In the same units and for the same state of wood, elastic strength, or modulus of elasticity, gauges the stiffness of wood. Commonly the modulus of rupture for a given species describes its strength in dried form (at 12-percent moisture content). 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. The western species within the grouping are Engelmann Spruce, Sitka Spruce, and Lodgepole Pine. Balsam fir. extensionpubs.osu.edu. | Columbus, Ohio 43210 | 614-292-6181 This is in contrast to pine and fir branches that tend to be smooth. Pine trees feature needles that cluster in groups of two, three or five and jet outward from the branches, whereas spruce and fir trees feature needles that are individually attached to the branches. ... As Jim says, consult with Richard. All Rights Reserved. (2018). Below are commonly found pines, spruces, and firs in Ohio. The branches of a pine tree don’t grow in as thickly as on spruce or fir trees; they can be … 494 129 5. One of the first and easiest ways that experienced woodworkers can tell the difference between whitewood and pine is the number of knots that it has. Fraser fir. Fir needles are flat and fat (think FFF). Beyond the needle characteristics of pines, spruces, and firs, the next characteristic for identification are the female cones or strobili that each genera produces. Because spruce needles grow from small woody pegs, spruce branches are rough and jaggy. Soutern Yellow Pine vs. Some trees are multi-toned, like the Fraser Fir with dark green tips and silver undersides and the Blue Spruce with blue green and silvery needles. Another spruce sometimes found in arboreta, parks, and cemeteries is Serbian spruce (it is also becoming a more regular choice for landscapes). Fir cones on the other hand r… Pines have slender needles (leaves) arranged in bundles of two, three or five with a permanent or deciduous papery wrap or sheath at their bases called a fascicle (Fig. Pine trees feature needles that cluster in groups of two, three or five and jet outward from the branches, whereas spruce and fir trees feature needles that are individually attached to the branches. The IBC provides reduction criteria if the specific gravity of the lumber is less than that for SYP or Douglas Fir. (spruce) Abies spp. Things can get a bit trickier if you are not comparing equal grades of wood, though. Pine, spruce and fir. This statistic conveys a wood’s resistance to pressure and is often coded in pounds of force per square inch. Any fresher coniferous essential oils like pine, spruce, and fir can serve as a substitute. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. This characteristic of having needles in bundles is unique to pines and immediately separates them from the spruces and firs, which present their needles on the branches singularly. You can also get up to $50 back for planting this tree yourself through our. Pine leaves are acicular (long, needle-like) and spruce and fir leaves are linear. This grouping of species stretches across the northern regions of the USA. (2018). DeltaMan. Pine Trees. This tree is available through our residential planting program, RiverSmart Homes. The most common firs in Ohio include balsam fir (including Canaan fir), Fraser fir, and white fir. Fir needles are soft, flat (two-sided) and cannot be rolled between one’s fingers. Here are some tips to tell pine and spruce trees apart. The needles easily roll between your finger tips. Here, we’ll be making the basic comparisons between these three varieties based on the needles, cones & branches, bark & growth habit as well as needle drop. (pines) Picea spp. Firs also have needles attached individually to the branches. (2000). Which oil can I use in its place? Accessibility Accommodation. In contrast, spruce cones have thinner scales than pinecones, which gives them a more flexible feel. Pine, spruce or fir: Getting to know Michigan evergreen trees. Whether it’s a pine or a spruce we bet it would look good and do good in your yard. Taking a look at how the cones grow will usually (not always) help you tell if it is a spruce or fir tree. Often used as a bonsai specimen, the Virginia pine is a unique and attractive tree with a sinuous trunk and orange-red bark. Pine. If you see one piece of each side by side, whitewood will typically have more knots than pine. If you have a disability and experience difficulty accessing this content request accommodation here. 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. If you do not see these markers, it is still possible that you are not purchasing whitewood that comes from the tulip tree. Female cones of pine, spruce, and fir start development pointing upward. (fir) Michigan State University Extension recommends gardeners start by looking closely at the needles forestry.ohiodnr.gov/pine (Accessed 11-8-2018). These “wooden pegs” remain behind after the needle drops. Beyond the needle characteristics of pines, spruces, and firs, the next characteristic for identification are the female cones or strobili that each genera produces. Other pines that are sometimes found in arboreta, parks, and cemeteries include Ponderosa pine, pitch pine, shortleaf pine, Jack pine, Korean pine, Himalayan pine, lacebark pine, and Japanese red pine. Each type of tree has advantages and disadvantages, the following list will help you better understand your options. Pine, Spruce and Fir. However, they are often grown as Christmas trees. We connect with people in all stages of life, from young children to older adults. Spruces have needles attached individually to the branches via short wooden, peg-like structures called pulvini (Fig. Individual spruce needles attach to branches via a short, wooden, peg-like structure (inset). Loblolly pines need full sun and will attain a height of 40 feet in about 30 – 40 years. forestry.ohiodnr.gov/spruce (Accessed 11-8-2018). For a more detailed list of popular Christmas trees click here. CFAES Diversity  |  Nondiscrimination notice  |  Site Map. ), and fir (Abies spp.) 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. It has dark green needles and excellent form. Mar 26, 2017. (2018). Champaign, Ill: Stipes Pub. 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. — Kristina (Tazeka) Jun 29, 2017. As such, people always confuse one conifer for the other. Due to SYP’s high weight and difficulty nailing, some of the lighter weight Canadian species (spruce and fir) are preferred for 2x4 and 2x6 studs for house walls. Whether it’s a pine or a spruce we bet it would look good and do good in your yard. Common conifers: Austrian pine (. Mature pine and spruce cones are pendulant or hang downward from their point of attachment to the branch. 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. It will grow in poor, dry soils. DeltaMan. However, pine trees have fewer branches, so they tend to look a bit more sparse than firs or spruces. 494 129 5. I live in the UK and cant get White Spruce oil. Abies fraseri. Both the wood are very similar to each other and therefore, the confusion exists. These are all conifers which are usually referred as “Christmas trees”. The Fraser fir is considered by many to be the perfect holiday tree. The base of the fir needle is expanded into a round base giving the needle the appearance of a suction-cup tipped dart. They possess physical characteristics that can help distinguish between them. The Blue Spruce is a tree that, as Leyden puts it, "has a really great shape." Thank you — Jean Kitchin. The scales and seeds of fir cones break loose and crumble away from the central stalk while it is still attached to the tree. These needles are especially unique among this trio of trees. Pines (Pinus spp.) Spruce. In this comparison guide of whitewood vs pine, we are going to point out all the existing differences between them. Pine (Pinus spp. Furthermore, pine cones are woody with a rigid … © 2020 Casey Trees. But drilling down, how to identify conifers further? 2). Some of these characteristics include needle length, needle color, bark characteristics, and additional cone characteristics. For technical support please contact the CFAES Helpdesk. Photo by Matt Suwak. Sometimes pine wood is sold as whitewood in some regions. The submit button will be disabled until you complete the CAPTCHA. These characteristics are detailed in many field guides for field identification of trees. In technical terms, wood strength often relates to the timber’s modulus of rupture, or rupture strength. Virginia Pine | Pinus virginiana To identify a pine, spruce, or fir by its needles, take a close look at one of its branches and observe the manner in which the needles are growing. Not all conifers that produce cones are pines. However, that is not to say that your project will turn out poorly. College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Concolor fir have longer needles that may be as blue as a blue spruce. 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. We work with families and children, farmers and businessowners, community leaders and elected officials to build better lives, better businesses and better communities to make Ohio great. The following guide, written by Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator Mary Wilson and … ), spruce (Picea spp. 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. This branch growth helps to distinguish them from conifers like firs as their branches are usually downward turned. 2120 Fyffe Road | Room 3 Ag Admin Bldg. Friendly fir, spikey spruce. Unlike the fir and spruce trees, a pine tree has needles that grow in bundles – you can typically see three to five needles bunched together on an upturned pine tree branch. These characteristics include position in which the mature cone is held, flexibility of the cone, and whether the cone remains intact at maturity. Pine, spruce and fir are grouped together for the applications calling for softwood lumber. Collectively, they are called conifers because of their cone production. Spruce vs. Fir – Trick #2 Look At The Cones. I think (maybe) the picture on the right is a white pine? Wilson, M. (2013). Not all conifers that produce cones are pines. Fir has little soft grain. Common spruces in Ohio include Colorado spruce, Norway spruce, and white spruce (including dwarf Alberta spruce). Ohio Trees. Pinecone scales are woody in nature, with a rigid feel. The exception to this is a Douglas Fir. You can spot the knots on a particular board without much trouble. Furthermore, pine cones are woody with a rigid exterior, while spruce cones are thinner and more flexible. Pine. A pine floor that is labeled as a C & Better … This site designed and maintained by CFAES Marketing and Communications. 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. It will grow in poor, dry soils. Cypress belongs to the family cupressaceae. Phone: 614-292-6181, © 2020 | 2120 Fyffe Road | Room 3 Ag Admin Bldg. Loblolly Pine | Pinus taeda 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. Fir, spruce and pine trees are all evergreen trees. Manual of woody landscape plants: Their identification, ornamental characteristics, culture, propagation and uses. are some of the most well-known evergreens. YES to the adding of Pinon Pine. The length, sharpness, and persistence of these spines can help to identify the pines. Leaves: Pine needles are longer than the average fir … Pine trees have leaves that come in bundles called fascicles; ponderosa pine have two and bristlecone pine have 5! Homeowners, landowners, and consumers often get these trees confused and even some well-versed gardeners have difficulties keeping them straight. The "leaves" of conifers are of course their needles. 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. Ornamentals, Landscape and Turf Systems, Michigan State University Extension. Conifers are commonly found growing in Ohio landscapes and several species are used as Christmas trees. Pine Trees. Evergreen trees provide shade, privacy, and year-round interest.

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