Differences between spruce and pine

Differences between spruce and pine

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Spruce and pine are quite common plants in the territory of the former CIS countries, but some people sometimes find it difficult to determine which genus a particular coniferous tree belongs to. Meanwhile, figuring out how spruce differs from pine is not so difficult.

Differences in the places where pine and spruce grow

Although, at first glance, it may seem that pine and spruce have practically no differences, in fact this is far from the truth. Indeed, these conifers have a number of common features, since they belong to the same family and class of plants, but there are not so many of them, as it is commonly believed, there are much more differences.

So, Scots pine grows mainly in regions of the temperate climatic zone, which are characterized by cold and humid weather conditions. It is widespread in the northern regions of Russia, the United States and Canada. Periodically, the plant can be found in the south of Mongolia and China.

The European spruce partly shares the territory with pine, however, unlike the latter, it belongs to more thermophilic crops. In addition to the middle zone of Russia, Canada and the United States, some countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia are also included in its habitat.

What is the difference between a tree and a pine

However, the place of growth is not the only difference between these species of conifers. They also have many differences in appearance: the shape of the crown, the general appearance of the cones, the color of the bark. All these features can be seen even with the naked eye, if you know what you need to pay attention to.

Pine and spruce size

As a rule, the difference in the height of pine and spruce is not very noticeable. Scots pine reaches an average of 25 - 40 m, which is approximately equal to the size of spruce, which grows up to 30 m. However, unlike pine, the size of spruce has great variability. So, among the representatives of this breed there are both relatively low specimens - up to 15 m in height, and real giants of 50 m and above.

Of much greater interest is the height at which the needles of these plants are located. So, in a pine, the crown begins at a distance equal to approximately half of the entire length of the trunk, while the needles of spruce begin to grow almost above the ground itself.

Pine and spruce cones size

Differences between plants are also manifested in the structure of pine and spruce cones. In both breeds, cones are divided into male and female, but outwardly they are very different from each other.

Male pine cones are small in size, comparable to the pit of a cherry, they are yellowish in color. Female inflorescences can be difficult to notice, as they are even smaller and are located at the end of a pine whorl.

Female fir cones, on the other hand, are many times larger than male ones: they can be easily recognized by their bright red color. They are also located at the tips of the branches, only at the top of the crown. But male spruce cones cannot boast of a bright color and large size.

The shape of the needles of pine and spruce

The needles of spruce and pine also have significant differences. One of the differences between these tree species is associated with the period of needles change.

So, many people are used to thinking that evergreens retain their leaf plates throughout the year. In the case of spruce, this is partly true. The needles of this tree fall off gradually, replacing with new needles every 7 to 12 years.

But the pine, surprisingly, like deciduous trees, sheds most of the needles by autumn. As a result, pine needles are able to completely change within 1 - 2 years.

Differences between pine and spruce are also observed in the length of the needles. Upon closer examination, the leaf plates of spruce have the shape of a tetrahedron, the size of which ranges from 2 to 3 cm. In addition, forming a whorl, they are attached to the branches one by one.

Pine needles, in contrast to spruce needles, have a smoother structure and taper towards the end. On the branches, they are located in pairs, and reach 4 - 6 cm in length.

Coloring pine and spruce needles

Even the color of the needles of the plants in question is different. Spruce needles are characterized by a deep dark green color that does not change throughout the life of the leaf blades. Lighter shades of green prevail in pine needles. In addition, unlike spruce needles, it tends to turn yellow closer to autumn, while acquiring a copper color.

Life expectancy of pine and spruce needles

The life expectancy of these conifers also differs. It is believed that the average age of pine is about 300 - 350 years, while spruce lives a little less - 207 - 300 years.

Nevertheless, both breeds have their own long-livers, which are several hundred times higher than the expected age threshold. So, in Sweden there is a spruce, nicknamed "Old Tikko", whose root system is at least 9550 years old. And in the United States in Inyo County, a pine tree was discovered, the age of which approached the mark of 5,000 years.

Spruce and pine root system

In addition to their appearance, pine and spruce have other differences. In particular, we can talk about the peculiarities of the root systems of these trees.

Pine has an inherent pivotal root system. It is very powerful and has many branches that extend outward from the thick taproot. Thanks to this structure, the plant is very unpretentious to the ground and can grow almost anywhere. In particular, this is facilitated by the main root, which lies at a great depth and provides the tree with moisture even on sandy and clay soils.

Spruce also has a tap root system, but, unlike pine, the main load falls on the lateral roots, since the main root atrophies when the tree reaches 10 years of age. The lateral shoots of the rhizome are able to supply the plant with the necessary substances for survival, but they are located closer to the surface of the earth than the roots of the pine. For this reason, you can often see a spruce littered under strong winds.

Common signs of a Christmas tree and pine

Despite the clear differences, it is not hard to understand why some people are confused when it comes to comparing pine and spruce. These trees do have some similarities that make them difficult to identify:

  1. Both plants belong to the Pine family, class Conifers.
  2. The cones of both breeds, with all their differences, have a common feature: during the ovary period they are located vertically on the branches, and during ripening they acquire a horizontal position, as if leaning towards the ground.
  3. The needles of pine and spruce also have common features. In both trees, leaf plates are represented by narrow needles, which, moreover, have a similar color.
  4. Both tree species produce phytoncide compounds that have antibacterial properties.
  5. These plants can be considered trees of the first size, since they exceed 20 m in height.
  6. The wood of these conifers is valuable for construction and industry.
  7. Needles, bark, resin and other parts of these species of conifers are actively used in medicine and cosmetology.

Which is better - pine or spruce

The main differences between pine and spruce give the uniqueness of these tree species and set them apart from other representatives of the flora. Both plants do an excellent decorative function and are able to please the eye throughout the year. Which one is better suited for decorating a park area or a personal plot is difficult to say: it depends on the goals that the breeders set for themselves and on their own preferences.

But no matter what the choice is based on, you should pay close attention to the recommendations for caring for these trees, since certain differences can be traced in the measures of agricultural technology.

Features of spruce and pine care

Since these conifers are quite different, it is reasonable to assume that the requirements for caring for them will also differ. Basically, this is manifested in the watering regime and the choice of the place for planting trees.

As mentioned above, pine is unpretentious to soils and easily adapts to life in rocky or wetlands and in other places that are not rich in fertile soils. It tolerates dry conditions well, is frost-resistant, it is not afraid of winds and heavy rainfall. However, for all its stamina and vitality, the tree grows with difficulty in areas where there is a lack of sunlight. Therefore, when choosing a planting site for a plant, preference should be given to well-lit areas where there is no shadow at all.

Spruce is no less hardy and also undemanding in terms of soil quality. It has an enviable frost resistance, and, unlike pine, it feels good even in places with extensive shade. A key condition for the well-being of this breed is competent watering. When growing spruce on your site, it is extremely important to ensure that the soil under it is not too wet or too dry. Otherwise, it will begin to rapidly wither away, and its root system will become vulnerable to diseases and pests.

If the basic conditions are met, then both representatives of the conifers will not be infected and will serve as decorative landscape decorations for many years.

What a pine tree and a Christmas tree look like: photo

Having studied the features of spruce and pine, you can easily distinguish between these two tree species in the photo.

European spruce:

Scots pine:


Having figured out how spruce differs from pine and what are the features of these species, you can competently provide conditions for growing these beautiful trees with high decorative properties on your land plot.

Watch the video: How To Prune Evergreens, Part 1 - Pine Trees (February 2023).

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