University of Tennessee
Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Plants

Trees with Needle and Scale-like Leaves

Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Bald Cypress Bald Cypress is typically a Coastal Plains tree that is found in swamps and other wet areas. However, it is often planted in drier habitats where it thrives. Younger trees are pyramidal in shape and may grow up to 150 ft in height. It is a deciduous gymnosperm the green needle-like leaves turn brown before being shed each autumn. The round green cones turn brown at maturity. At the Arboretum a number of Bald Cypress trees are planted in the Marsh Area, along Scarborough Creek, and in an area above the Program Shelter next to the Oak Collection.

Bald Cypress 'Knees' A unique feature associated with Bald Cypress is the development of cypress knees, which are outgrowths from the root system that grow upward around the trees on wet sites. Although the function of these knees is unknown, it has been postulated that they facilitate gas exchange in the low oxygen environment of wetland habitats and/or provide support for the shallow-rooted trees. The decay-resistant wood has many uses in construction, such as docks, bridges, and buildings.

Return to: Needle and Scale-like Leaf Samples | Tree Identification Guide

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

A former Eastern Red 'Cedar Barrens' being replaced by deciduous forest. Eastern Red Cedar (also known as Old Field Juniper) is a small to medium sized coniferous tree with scale-like or awl-like leaves and bluish, berry-like fruits. It is widespread throughout the eastern U.S. and adjacent Canada. It invades open areas that have been disturbed by fire or cleared for agriculture. Areas dominated by Eastern Red Cedar are referred to as Cedar Barrens and are present in the Oak Ridge area. Eastern Red Cedar trees may persist in older forests for many years, and their presence may provide evidence of past land use for agriculture or other human or natural disturbance.

Cultivars of Eastern Red Cedar in the Arboretum Juniper Collection.

The female cones of Eastern Red Cedar develop into bluish berries with a waxy coating. These fruits are an important winter food source for birds, which disperse the seeds widely. Female cones of Eastern Red Cedar.

The aromatic wood repels insects and is used for lining cedar chests and as fence posts. The tree is also planted for windbreaks and used for making pencils and for Christmas Trees in the South. It is an alternate host for cedar-apple rust and should not be planted near fruit trees.

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Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica)

Japanese CedarTwo large, impressive trees in the Arboretums Conifer Collection are the Japanese Cedars on the hill above the Program Shelter. These are not true cedars, but belong to the Cupressaceae family, which also includes junipers, bald cypress, arborvitae, and redwoods. A dwarf form of this tree can be found in the Dwarf Conifer Collection. This ancient tree is the National tree of Japan and is also called "Temple Tree" for its use in building the centuries-old Shinto temples. It has a pyramidal, conical shape with somewhat pendulous branches. It is evergreen, grows 50-60 ft high (though old trees as high as 230 ft have been reported).

Japanese Cedar Seed Cones Japanese Cedar has blue-green, needle-like leaves and a red-brown bark that peels off in vertical strips. The seed cones are globular. It is a forest tree native to Japan (16% of Japanese managed forests are of Japanese Cedar). It has a wide variety of uses in construction and the manufacture of furniture, utensils, and paper. It is cultivated as an ornamental, landscape tree, and is frequently used for Bonsai.

Return to: Needle and Scale-like Leaf Samples | Tree Identification Guide

Japanese Umbrella Pine (Sciadoitys verticella)

Umbrella Pine One of the more interesting trees in the Arboretums Dwarf Conifer Collection is the Japanese Umbrella Pine. The common name of this tree comes from the long green, needle-like "leaves" that occur in whorls resembling the spokes of an umbrella. These photosynthetic "leaves" have been interpreted as actually being stem tissue rather than leaf tissue and are referred to as cladodes. They persist for 3 years. The true leaves are small brown, scale-like structures that are found along the shoot between the whorls of green cladodes and are also tightly clustered around the bases of the cladodes.

Umbrella Pine 'Leaves' The slow-growing Japanese Umbrella Pine can reach a height of 20-30 feet. Its reddish-brown bark peels off in strips. In its native Japan, this species grows in cool, moist, mountainous environments. The wood is used in Japan for building boats. Several cultivars have been developed as unusual landscape trees. As the sole member of the plant family Sciadopityaceae, the Japanese Umbrella Pine is known from the fossil record as far back as 230 million years.

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Tigertail Spruce (Picea polita or Picea torano)

Tigertail SpruceA good example of a Tigertail Spruce is found in the Arboretum's Dwarf and Unusual Conifer Collection. It is endemic (restricted in distribution) to Japan. Branches of young trees are horizontal, but its common name comes from the pendulous branches of older trees that are said to resemble tiger tails. The stiff, green, sharp-tipped needles are borne on short woody, peg-like structures called pulvini. In winter Tigertail Spruce has conspicuous reddish buds at the end of its branches. Restrictions on importing Tigertail Spruce, Western Hemlock, and other conifers have been developed by Canada and several states to prevent further introduction of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid, which has been devastating Eastern Hemlock forests.

Tigertail Spruce Cones The distinctive cones hang down, a characteristic that helps differentiate spruces from firs (Abies spp.) which have erect cones. The grayish-brown bark of Tigertail Spruce becomes deeply fissured in older trees. In Japan, this species has been used for lumber, paper pulp and ornamental purposes.

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Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)

Virginia Pine Needles Virginia Pine (also known as Scrub Pine) is one of the more common native pines found at the Arboretum. Its twisted, yellowish-green needles are borne in bundles of two, a characteristic that helps distinguish it from Shortleaf Pine which has straight needles in bundles of 2-3. Trunks of older Virginia Pine retain many dead limb stubs below the canopy. The flaky bark is light brownish orange to gray-brown. The seed cones, which require 2 years to mature, have scales with thickened ends bearing slender, stiff prickles. Pollen cones develop in the spring and produce copious amounts of pollen.


Virginia Pine Bark Virginia Pine Seed Cones

Virginia pine, which may grow up to 70 ft in height, is a pioneer species that becomes established in open areas created by fire or other disturbance. The presence of older Virginia Pines in the Arboretums deciduous forest reflects a history of forest development on abandoned farmlands. Research at UT on Virginia Pine has included studies of genetic and environmental variability that influence tree growth and productivity.

Return to: Needle and Scale-like Leaf Samples | Tree Identification Guide

University of Tennessee - Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
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