Well, technically I should really say deciduous conifers.
Most of us understand that conifers generally consist of the familiar Evergreen Hemlocks, Spruce and Pine that grow in abundance in our Pittsburgh landscape, but did you know there are a few deciduous conifers that perform quite nicely in our Pittsburgh climate. Yes, these are conifers like the aforementioned Spruce and Pine but these particular trees loose every single needle (leaves) in autumn and regrow all new needles the following spring. These trees also bear cones but they tend to be smaller than you would see on a Pine or Spruce.
The two deciduous conifers that perform admirably in Pittsburgh are the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichens) and the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides)
It’s interesting to note that the Bald Cypress has a far reaching natural range all the way from parts of the upper Mississippi Valley all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Contrary to popular belief the trees do not need to grow in or near water to do well; as long as the soil is evenly moist and doesn’t dry out excessively in the summer time they will perform nicely. Forming a strong central leader and even branching habit it’s a great low maintenance tree to grow in your landscape. The needles turn to orange rust to a yellowish brown color in the fall and is fairly attractive. Give it plenty of room to develop as it easily can reach 50-70 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.
The Dawn Redwood was thought to be extinct until a stand of trees was found growing in its native Lichuan county in Hubei province, China in 1944. Since then it has grown in popularity due to its overall attractive nature, it is easy to grow and is resistant to pests.
The Dawn Redwood is rather unique in that it is the only genus in the species; meaning it has no family members beyond itself. Another large growing tree so give it plenty of room. Trees generally can grow to 60 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.
It has a strong growing habit, tends to have low in maintenance needs in our local landscape and is resistant to deer browsing, pests and diseases. They grow best in moist soils but can tolerate drought conditions on occasion. Fall color tends to be an orange-rusty color and is quite attractive.
– Kevin Anthony Prall firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Prall is a landscape consultant at Eichenlaub with a degree in ornamental horticulture from Colorado State University.
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