Cedar Valley Arboretum & Botanic Gardens

Ever Green

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Jack Frost has been sure to let us know it is officially winter in our great state of Iowa.  So much snow!  It is this time of year that I am most thankful for conifers in the garden to give us a bit of texture and color interest.  For most of the growing season, they often act as the backdrop to our deciduous shrubs and perennials.  Now it is their time to shine!

What exactly is a “conifer?”  Dictionary.com explains conifers to be mostly needle-leaved or scale-leaved, cone-bearing gymnospermous trees or shrubs.  (Gymnosperm is the collection naked seed-bearing plants; also includes ginkgos.  This is opposite to flowering plants known collectively as angiosperms.)  For the sake of simplicity, we won’t go into any more depth than dictionary.com’s description.  But I will say the taxonomy and history of this collection of plants is incredibly interesting and encourage you to research more.

Typical examples of Iowa conifers include cedar, fir, cypress, juniper, larch, pine, spruce and yew.  In the next few blog posts, we are going to delve more into each of these examples.

Here’s an interesting fact about conifers.  Did you know that the world’s tallest, largest, stoutest and oldest living trees are all conifers? 

Tallest Living Tree = Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), with a height of 115.5 meters found in the USA

Largest (in terms of volume) Living Tree = Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) with a volume 1486.9 cubic meters  found in the USA

Stoutest Living Tree = Cypress (Taxodium mucronatum) at 11.62 meters found in Mexico.

Oldest Living Tree = Norway Spruce (Picea abies) at 9,550 years old found in Sweden

Pretty impressive, I’d say!  Next week we’ll talk more about the wonderful world of conifers.  Until then,  a very happy holidays to you and yours! 

See you in the gardens.

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Written by cedarvalleyarboretum

December 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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