There are many different types of evergreen trees that can be found worldwide. They live everywhere from the Arctic to sub tropical climates.
An evergreen is a type tree that retains its leaves, or needles, all year round and is green throughout the year, as opposed to a deciduous tree that sheds its leaves in the autumn and grows new ones in the spring.
There are several species of evergreen plants, Some are trees and some are considered shrubs. The Latin term “sempervirens” means always green alludes to the fact that they keep their leaves, or needles, all year round.
When most people think of evergreens they think of pine (pinus) trees. There are around 126 different species of pine trees that grow mostly in higher elevations in the northern hemisphere.
They are considered a cone bearing resinous tree that grows to between 10 and 260 feet tall.
Pine trees can live a long time. Usually between 100 and 1,000 years with the oldest one being a Bristlecone Pine (Pinus Longaeva) dating to 4,900 years ago.
Here are some of the most popular varieties.
The Ponderosa Pine (Pinus Ponderosa) is called the most important tree in the U.S. and is the most widely distributed species of pine in North America. Ponderous means heavy and this tree is a major source of lumber in the Southwest.
It is the State tree of Montana. It grows freely from Canada down to central California.
In the wild they can grow to about 200 feet tall and their trunks can be 3 to 4 feet across.
The old TV show Bonanza’s ranch was called the “Ponderosa” and located in Carson City, Nevada.
The Sugar pine tree (Pinus lambertiana) is the most massive and tallest of the pine trees. These behemoths can grow as tall as 200 feet or more and have a diameter of 5 feet at the base of the trunk. They are second only in size to the giant Sequoia.
The naturalist John Muir really loved the Sugar Pine and consequently called it the “king of the conifers.” Native Americans used its resin as a sweetener, hence the name Sugar Pine.
It can be found in the mountains from Oregon to Baja California with the tallest one being found in Yosemite National Park and measuring 273 feet tall.
The Black Pine (Pinus Thunbergii) is also known as the Japanese black pine and can be found around the coastal areas of South Korea and Japan. They usually only grow to a height of around 20 feet with some robust specimens growing to 100 feet.
The Scots Pine is a native of Europe and ranges from Western Europe to Eastern Siberia. It can grow to over a 100 feet tall and is the native tree of Scotland.
Fir trees (Pinaceae) are considered a coniferous evergreen tree with about 56 different species. They are found mostly in mountain ranges in North and Central America. They are also found in Asia, Europe and North Africa.
Surprisingly the most popular fir, The Douglas Fir, is not truly a fir and belongs to the genus Pseudotsuga. Because of its strength and non-porous straight grain it is used mostly in the building trade to make houses and other dwellings.
The Noble Fir (Abies Procera) lives in the high elevations of the western mountains of the United States from northern California through Oregon to Washington. It usually grows from 130 feet to 230 feet tall.
Its branch uniformity and soft needles make it a great choice for a Christmas tree.
This is probably the number one choice for a Christmas tree because its firm evenly spaced branches are perfect for hanging ornaments. Another advantage is its silvery, green and soft needles and branches offer a beautiful perfect shape for a Christmas tree.
The Balsam fir (Abies balsamia) lives predominately in Canada and the northern United States which means it is well adapted to colder climates. It is a medium-sized evergreen tree that grows to around 50 feet tall.
It has a symmetrical shape and dark green color which makes it another favorite for a Christmas tree.
Because of its height, usually 30 to 70 feet the Balsam fir is also used as a windbreak.
Now on to the big boys.
The Redwood Family (Taxodiaceae) includes evergreens (and some deciduous) coniferous trees. During the mild, humid climate of the Miocene Period (roughly 13 million years ago), this family of trees was very abundant. While they did grow throughout the world they were most prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere.
Since that time many species in this family have become extinct. Today there still remains 15 species that are growing anywhere from America to China and Tasmania.
The Coast Redwood (Sequoia Sempervirens) is recorded as being the worlds tallest living thing. Reaching heights of more than 380 feet, this majestic Coast Redwood is the worlds tallest tree with a life span of more than 2000 years.
Fossil records show that this trees family lineage dates back to around 160 million years.
On average the typical Coastal Redwood reached a height of 175 to 300 feet and have an astounding trunk diameter of 8 to 20 feet. The bark is reddish brown and deeply furrowed.
While they are under State and National protection only about 5% of America’s ancient Redwoods remain. Fortunately they can be grown from seeds or saplings, in containers or in the ground, right in your backyard.
The Giant Sequoia (Sequoiaiadendron Giganteum) is the most massive living the on Earth. It can have a trunk diameter of over 36 feet and reach a height of 300 feet and can live for thousands of years.
They are native to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Although they are hardy enough to grow well in almost any type of climate and they are cultivated with tender loving care throughout the world.
If you ever decide to take a vacation in the Sierra Nevadas you must visit Kings Canyon National Park where you will find the General Grant tree and the General Sherman tree. Two of truly the most majestic species of trees that are on this planet.