December 10
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Plant Genus of the family Pinaceae

Genus Description Cultivation
Abies This genus in the Pinaceae family consists of about 50 species, the majority of which occur in the northern temperate zones of Europe, North Africa, Asia and North America. Mostly long-lived and medium to very tall, the trees have long, narrow, smooth leaves, in whorls on the branches. On lateral branches they grow more horizontally. The leaf color ranges from mid to dark green, often with a grayish white band. Female cones are carried erect on upper branches and ripen in a year. The cones then break open to release the seeds, while the central stalk remains on the branch. The hanging male cones grow throughout the crown. These trees are fully hardy but frost damage can occur on juvenile foliage. CULTIVATION: Abies grow best in neutral to acid, moist fertile soil with good drainage in full sun; some species tolerate alkaline soil (Abies pinsapo and A. vejarii) and most will tolerate some shade. Some juvenile trees need shelter from cold winds. Adelgids and honey fungus can be a problem. Seed should be sown as soon as it ripens, but needs to be stratified for 3 weeks for better germination. Grafting of cultivars should be undertaken in winter.
Larix The larches, members of the pine family, comprise the largest genus of deciduous conifers; they are found in northern Europe, over much of Asia from Siberia as far south as northern Myanmar, and in northern North America. They are among the earliest trees to come into leaf in spring, the leaves being carried on both long and short shoots. Upright summer-ripening cones are borne on the shorter shoots, and last on the tree for some time. In older trees the branches tend to droop in a graceful manner. The needle-like leaves are usually vivid green, sometimes blue-green in summer and turning butter yellow to old gold in autumn. Some species yield valuable timber that is strong and heavy. CULTIVATION: Larches are adaptable to most soils though wet soils are best avoided for all but 1 or 2 species. All need plenty of light. Species hybridize readily, in the wild and in cultivation. They propagate readily from seed.
Picea There are approximately 45 species and many cultivars in this genus of resinous evergreen conifers in the Pinaceae family, from cool latitudes or high altitudes in the Northern Hemisphere. The majority are large noble trees of symmetrical habit, favoring deep, rich, acidic, well-drained soils in mountainous areas. Many species are valued timber trees. The attractive foliage displays a wide color range, including green, blue, silver and gray, and consists of needle-like leaves on short and persistent peg-like shoots. The large and attractive cones are pendulous at maturity, this feature contrasting with the somewhat similar firs (Abies species), which hold their cones upright. CULTIVATION: Though some species are slow growing, all members are wind-firm and the taller species make excellent windbreaks for large gardens and parks. They tolerate a wide range of soils and climates but do not perform well in mild areas or polluted atmospheres. The slow growth of some, especially the smaller cultivars, makes them suitable for bonsai. Propagation is from seed or, for cultivars, firm cuttings or grafting.
Pinus This extremely variable genus of conifers has around 110 species, all of which grow in the Northern Hemisphere, with one also occurring just south of the equator. They are found throughout Europe, Asia, northern Africa and North and Central America, with more species in Mexico than in the rest of the world combined. They grow over a range of climates and conditions, from tropical equatorial forests to the extreme cold at the edge of the Arctic Circle. Predominantly large trees, only a couple of species are shrubs. The leaves are needle-like and range from quite small to as much as 18 in (45 cm) long. They are generally found in bundles of 3 or 5, with never more than 8 in a group. The seed cones vary in shape, color and dimension, from small and egg-like to cylindrical cones up to 20 in (50 cm) long. Most seeds have wings to aid dispersal, but are also distributed by birds and animals. The cones of many species open after the wildfires to which they are subjected in the wild, then germinate readily. This genus includes some of the world?s most important timber species, with trees harvested both from the wild and plantations. The sap from certain species is also tapped for the production of turpentine and rosin, and a number of species provide valuable edible seeds. CULTIVATION: The diversity of this genus means different species have different requirements, which also means there is a species for just about every situation. Most are very hardy to cold and extended dry periods, and tolerate a range of soils, although they must have full sun. These trees are useful as specimens on larger properties and as windbreaks. Certain species are also popular for bonsai. Propagate from seed, although the cultivars are grafted.
Pseudotsuga There are 6 to 8 species of coniferous trees within this genus in the family Pinaceae. All are evergreen forest trees from western North America, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan and China. They are major timber trees used for power poles, railway sleepers, plywood and wood pulp and are also a source of Oregon balsam. Some trees reach 300 ft (90 m) in height in their native habitat, but this is rare in cultivation. The foliage and cones are frequently used as Christmas decorations, as the foliage sheds its needles less readily than other species traditionally used as Christmas trees. The linear leaves grow radially on the shoots. The female cones have 3-pronged bract scales protruding from between the cone scales; the cylindrical male cones are smaller. CULTIVATION: These hardy trees prefer colder climates and will grow in any well-drained soil in full sun. Propagate the species from seed in spring, or graft cultivars in late winter.
Tsuga There are 10 or 11 species of evergreen, monoecious, coniferous trees native to North America and Asia in this genus of the Pinaceae family. It grows in mountainous areas in its southern distribution, and in wet cool coastal areas and plains in the north. Most young trees are shade tolerant, as they naturally grow in dark forests where they make up a considerable proportion of the understory. They have flattened linear leaves with whitish silver bands on the undersides. The female cones become pendent as they ripen and drop off in the second year. Grown mainly for its timber and ornamental cultivars, it is also known for a refreshing medicinal tea made by the Native Americans in eastern Canada from the bark and twigs. The name hemlock spruce has no connection with the umbellifer of the same name, and these conifers are not poisonous. CULTIVATION: Tsuga grows in humus-rich, slightly acid, neutral to marginally alkaline soil in shade to full sun. All species need moist well-drained soil, and shelter from cold winds. In poor dry soil these plants make weedy specimens. Propagate by sowing seed in containers in an area protected from winter frosts or by rooting half-hardened cuttings in late summer to autumn.

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