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What Are the Different Types of Conifers?

Hemlock conifers are divided into Eastern and Western varieties.
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  • Written By: L. Baran
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2014
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Conifers are types of trees from the Coniferales family, a group of species that bear cones. They are typically evergreen trees, keeping their green needles throughout the year, but some varieties lose their needles cyclically. There are a number of different types of conifers including cedars, firs, the baldcypress, hemlocks, larches, pines and spruces.

The most common types of cedars are the Atlantic White, the Northern White, the Port-Orford and the Alaska. Each tree features very thin green leaves with scale-like details. Most are found in moderately wet areas, such as stream banks, swamplands or boggy areas, and flourish in partly shaded locations. Cedar bark typically has a flaky appearance and is dark brown in color.

Fir conifers include the Balsam, the Douglas, the Fraser, the Grand and the California Red. These trees have distinct cone shapes and broader foliage than cedars, with dense needles. They are often found in mountainous regions or rocky areas.

The baldcypress is one type of conifer that loses its needles once a year. Its bald appearance in the winter months is the primary reason for its distinctive name. This tree is tall with a distinctive red-brown bark.

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Hemlock conifers are divided into Eastern and Western varieties. The Eastern hemlock is located along the forested regions of the Northeastern United States and features numerous small cones. Western hemlocks are found in California and Oregon and is characterized by broader, less numerous cones. Larches are also divided in the same way, feature very thin, long needles, and lose their foliage in the fall. Spruces, including the Red, Black and Colorado Blue subtypes, are very similar to hemlocks in appearance and are able to tolerate colder conditions than other conifers.

There are numerous types of pine conifers including the popular Ponderosa, Longleaf and Loblolly varieties. Pines have long, extremely thin needles nestled closely in groups. The needles look like groups of thin fingers and tend to branch out all in the same direction. Unlike many other types of conifers, pines prefer well drained soil and grow well in rocky locations.

The conifer tree is useful to human populations for its wood, and is one of the most commonly forested trees in the world. It produces wood quickly in relation to other tree species and is readily available in regions throughout the world. The conifer family is also known for its ability to adapt to changing environmental conditions and to survive competition from many other species.

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