At a glance, many evergreen trees look pretty similar. Even if you take a closer peek, you may not know exactly what you’re looking for. How can you distinguish one evergreen tree from another?
Let’s answer that question for three common evergreens: spruce, fir and pine. A few subtle differences set these trees apart, like the shape of their needles or the texture of their cones.
Keep reading for tips on identifying these three evergreen trees.
Fir trees are widely considered the most common evergreen to use as a Christmas tree. But that’s not all they’re known for! Check out the characteristics of a fir tree below.
Fir needles grow individually from the tree’s branches, unlike pine needles which grow in clusters. In addition, fir tree needles have these defining qualities:
What truly sets fir trees apart is their cones. They grow upward, which is different from pine and spruce cones which droop toward the ground. Plus, fir tree cones can take on a variety of colors, like green, blue or purple, before turning brown.
There are approximately 40 species of spruce trees around the world, each with the attributes below.
Like fir trees, spruce tree needles grow individually from tree branches. But unlike fir trees, spruce trees have a tiny bump between the branch and the needle called the sterigmata. That’s where the needle actually grows from. Here’s more on spruce needles:
Spruce tree cones hang toward the ground, and they have thin scales that make them smoother to the touch than pine cones. They’re also pretty flexible. You can slightly bend a spruce tree cone, but not a pine cone.
Pine trees are well known for their fragrant, decorative cones. Below are more facts that differentiate these trees.
Pine trees are not like their spruce and fir cousins in that their needles grow in clusters, rather than individually from a branch. A pine needle cluster can be anywhere from 2 to 5 needles. Here’s more on pine needles:
Pine cone scales are stiff and rough to the touch. Unlike spruce tree cones, pine cones cannot be bent.