Deciduous Evergreens?! Did i read that correctly?!

Well, Technically I Should Say Deciduous Conifer Trees.

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 evergreen trees that perform quite nicely in our Pittsburgh climate?

Yes, these are conifers like the aforementioned Spruce and Pine but these particular trees lose 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.

Kevin Prall is a landscape consultant at Eichenlaub with a degree in ornamental horticulture from Colorado State University. Follow along to learn more about deciduous evergreens, other than the typical spruce and pine trees, that will thrive in Pittsburgh according to our landscape consultant, Kevin Prall!

What Is A Deciduous Conifer?

The majority of trees and shrubs typically fall into one of two categories: deciduous or coniferous. Deciduous trees shed their leaves annually, while coniferous trees, characterized by bearing cones and having needles or scales that remain intact, are commonly known as evergreens. It’s worth noting that the term “conifer” is often used interchangeably with “evergreen,” although not all conifers are evergreen.

Although it might sound perplexing, there are approximately 20 or so species classified as deciduous conifers or evergreens. These trees exhibit cone formation and needle growth akin to conifers, yet they also undergo color changes in the fall and shed their needles on an annual basis, akin to deciduous trees.

Believe it or not, there are some great deciduous evergreen trees that look divine in a Pittsburgh landscape.

Deciduous Evergreens Trees That Work Well In Pittsburgh

The two deciduous conifers that perform admirably in Pittsburgh are the Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichens) and the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

Bald Cypress (Taxodium Distichens)

Deciduous Evergreens For Pittsburgh: A cluster of Bald Cypress treesIt’s interesting to note that the Bald Cypress has a far-reaching natural range from parts of the upper Mississippi Valley 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 habits it’s a great low-maintenance tree to grow in your landscape. The needles turn from orange rust to a yellowish-brown color in the fall and are fairly attractive. Give it plenty of room to develop as it easily can reach 50-70 feet tall and 20-30 feet wide.

Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides)

Deciduous Evergreens For Pittsburgh: A Dawn Redwood TreeThe 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 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.


End Note:

We hope this provides some clarity as to what a deciduous evergreen is and some spectacular species to choose for your Pittsburgh landscape! If you are thinking about adding some deciduous evergreens to your landscape, the next step is deciding where to add it to your landscape.

Eichenlaub can help you with your landscape architectural planning, planting, and other installation needs; just give us a call or send an email to set up an appointment to meet with one of our consultants. Click on the button below to get started today!