Class Copy

Key to Native Coniferous Trees

Derived from "Trees of Washington". (1957) Washington State University EB0440 external arrow.

  1. Leaves deciduous (dropping in the fall), scattered singly or in clusters on spur shoots, cones upright on stem (Larches)
    1. Leaves triangular (three-sided); buds smooth, cones oblong, 1 to 1½" long, smooth; twigs hairless — Western Larch
    2. Leaves quadrangular (four-sided); buds covered with long, white hairs; cones rounded, 1½ to 2" long; twigs covered with dense, wooly hairs — Subalpine Larch
  2. Leaves persistent (stay on stem; the year around)
    1. Leaves in clusters of two to five with sheath (a covering) at base of needles (Pines)
      1. Leaves in clusters of five, sheath deciduous (Soft Pines)
        1. Leaves 2 to 4" long, rows of stomata (white dots) on inside; cones 5 to 15" long, cylindrical — Western White Pine
        2. Leaves 1½ to 2½" long; rows of stomata on outside; cones 2 to 3" long, rounded — Whitebark Pine
      2. Leaves in clusters of two or three; sheath persistent (Hard Pines)
        1. Leaves in clusters of three or two and three on the same tree, 5 to 11" long; large resinous (pitchy) buds; cone 3 to 6" long — Ponderosa Pine
        2. Leaves only in clusters of two, 1 to 3" long; rather small slightly resinous buds; cone ¾ to 2" long, usually asymmetrical (lopsided) — Lodgepole Pine
    2. Leaves scattered singly on stems or in opposite pairs
      1. Leaves linear (narrow and slender looking) spirally arranged and often appearing two-ranked (row of needles on each side of twig)
        1. Peg-like projections left on stem after leaves fall
          1. Leaves with short stalks, flattened, two broad bands of stomata below (Hemlocks)
            1. Leaves appearing two-ranked, stomata on under surface only; light brown cone, ½ to ¾ inch long — Western Hemlock
            2. Leaves growing out from all sides of stem, stomata on both surfaces; cone 1 to 3" long purple to yellow-green — Mountain Hemlock
          2. Leaves without stalks, quadrangular (four-sided) or flattened; stomata not in prominent bands (Spruces)
            1. Leaves flattened, yellow-green, growing at nearly right angles to the stem, sharp-pointed; cone 2½ to 4" long — Sitka Spruce
            2. Leaves quadrangular, blue-green, tend to point toward end of stem, pointed tips; cone 1½ to 2½" long — Engelmann Spruce
        2. Stem mostly smooth after leaves fall
          1. Leaves with stalks, scattered over twig or appearing in two ranks; non-resinous buds
            1. Leaves usually scattered over twig or sometimes appearing in two ranks; leaf stalks same color as leaf; buds pointed; cones with three-lobed bracts longer than scales — Douglas-Fir
            2. Leaves always two-ranked; leaf stalks yellow; bud rounded; fruit a scarlet aril (berry-like)— Pacific Yew
          2. Leaves without stems crowded to upper side of twig, scattered or in two ranks; resinous, rounded buds; upright cones (True Firs)
            1. Leaves two-ranked, ¾ to 2 ¼" long; dark green, white bands of stomata on lower side; purple-green cylindrical cone 2 to 4½" long — Grand Fir
            2. Leaves crowded to upper side of twig or scattered
              1. Leaves quadrangular, grooved above, stomatiferous (lines of white spots) on all sides, 1 to 1½" long; cone light brown to purple; bracts extend beyond cone scale, reflexed (turned back), oblong, 4 to 6" long — Noble Fir
              2. Leaves flattened, smooth above
                1. Leaves shiny, dark green with bands of stomata below, ¾ to 1 ¼" long, crowded to upper side of twig; cone deep purple, cylindrical 3½ to 6" long — Pacific Silver Fir
                2. Leaves blue-green, stomatiferous on both sides, 1 to 1½" long, scattered on twig; cone, grayish - purple, oblong -cylindrical, 2½ to 4" long — Subalpine Fir
      2. Leaves scale-like, mostly closely pressed to the stem
        1. Twigs flattened; foliage in flattened sprays; fruit a leathery to woody cone
          1. Branchlets much flattened; foliage sprays long and drooping; cone oblong; scales flattened and over-lapping — Western Redcedar
          2. Branchlets somewhat flattened; tips of leaves sharp and spreading; cone round; scales shield shape — Alaska-Cedar
        2. Twigs round; foliage spreading out in all directions; fruit berry-like (junipers)
          1. Leaves dark green; margins smooth; branchless slender, fruit blue with white bloom maturing in 2 years — Rocky Mountain juniper