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Are Spruce Trees Fir Trees?

Evergreen trees are a beautiful option that many people choose to have in their yards. They’re extremely popular during the holidays, but that doesn’t mean they can’t add value to your property year-round.

Evergreen trees can grow tall, meaning that many people choose to plant them in order to have more privacy in their yards. They can work as a wind block as well. Evergreen trees are long-lasting, and they keep their green color all year long. That’s the reason for the name “ever” green! If you don’t want to worry about having to pick up leaves that have fallen, these are the trees for you.

But before you choose an evergreen tree, there are some important things for you to know. For example, are spruce trees fir trees? The short answer is no, but let’s take a more in-depth look to see the actual difference between the two. Once we’ve done that, you’ll better understand which of these two most common types of evergreen trees is for you and your yard. There are so many different types of evergreen trees for you to choose from and not all of them are the same.

Conifers

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Spruce and fir trees are both conifer trees. Conifer trees are plants that produce cones. This doesn’t necessarily mean the common pine cone; it can mean flesh-colored cones that tend to look more like fruit. Oregon has over 30 different species of conifer trees found within the state, so there’s a very strong chance that you’ve seen one of these trees just by stepping outside of your home. In fact, Oregon and parts of northern California are known for conifer forests. This is where you can see hundreds of conifer trees per acre.

Pine trees are the largest member of the conifer family, and spruce and fir trees are both actually members of the pine family. They’re still quite different, though.

Needles on the Branches

Both spruce and fir trees have individual needles that are directly attached to the branches of the tree. If you look closely, you’ll see that they have a suction cup–like appearance, which is how the needles attach to the branches.
On a spruce tree, the needles are more of a square shape. They’re also more likely to break apart easily while you’re examining them, especially if you bend them or aren’t careful when you handle them.

On a fir tree, the needles are softer but very sharply pointed. They don’t break as easily, as they have a lot of give. This means that you can bend them without having to worry about them breaking off.

Most people tend to prefer fir trees as their holiday trees since the branches grow very densely. This results in not being able to see the trunk of the tree.

Shedding

Like all evergreen trees, the leaves and branches on spruce and fir trees don’t fall off as the weather gets colder, unlike deciduous trees. However, shedding of the needles can still happen, and these trees shed their needles in different ways.

When the needles of a spruce tree are shed, the spruce branches are left feeling rough, as the part of their wooden structure that the needles were attached to stays on the branch. It also looks peg-like.

When the needles of a fir tree are shed, only a small leaf scar is left behind, in the shape of a circle. It doesn’t look peg-like, meaning that it has smooth bark.

Different Types of Bark

The needles on spruce and fir trees may look similar to the eye, but the barks of the trees won’t. The bark of a spruce tree will be rougher. Additionally, it will have a scalier look and feel to it, especially as it ages. On a fir tree, the bark will be smooth and usually not scaly. When a fir tree is young, its bark is a gray color. As it ages, this gray color results in a more furrowed appearance.

It’s important to note that different subspecies of the same tree can result in extremely different types of barks. However, for the most part, the trees follow suit with the above.

Types of Cones

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Both spruce and fir trees produce cones, as do all conifer trees. But the cones are different. Whereas both spruce and fir trees have smoother cones than pine cones, that’s the only similarity they share. The cones found on spruce trees drape downward from the trees they grow on. The cones found on fir trees stand up.

Tree Colors

Not all spruce and fir trees are the same color. For instance, there are many color variations in spruce trees. The natural color of these trees can range from a light-green color to a deep blue-green color. A Colorado blue spruce is a great example of this deep blue-green color. Whereas fir trees can also have a blue-green color to their needles, they tend to not be as blue in color as a spruce tree can become.

Spruce and fir trees have a lot of similarities and both are great choices for your yard (or for your holiday tree when the season comes!). They come from the same family, they are both conifers, they produce cones, and they have a lovely color to them that doesn’t fade. However, they aren’t the same type of tree, and they do have some differences, as outlined above.

When it comes to which one will work better in your yard and for you and your family, that’s up to you to decide. If you’re at a loss as to which one to choose, give us a call today, and we’ll be happy to talk through it with you. We can recommend which one will work best for your needs and ensure that it thrives in your yard.