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Special Topics

Evergreen Identification


The Heartland Collection of Garden Conifers at the Bickelhaup Arboretum in Clinton, Iowa contains more than 600 varieties of coniferous evergreens.Roses, crabapples, lilacs, magnolias and many other trees and shrubs are spectacular in full bloom. However, from November through April most flowering plants are just brown twigs and branches covered with snow and/or ice. For that reason, many of us rely on coniferous (conebearing) evergreens for structure and color throughout the year.

Junipers, left, have awl-shaped leaves, Douglasfir, center, have needle-like leaves, and arborvitae, right, have scale-like leaves.Yet, despite their popularity, it can be hard to tell one conifer from another in the landscape. Fortunately, once they’re organized into groups based on leaf shape; "awl"-like, (left), "needle"-like - including flat, square and bundled needles, (center), and "scale"-like, (right), identifying the most common evergreen trees and shrubs in landscape plantings gets a little easier with practice.

So, what do you say we get started by clicking on any of the links at right!