Brightening winter landscape EVERGREENS
By Kevin Anthony
Ohio certified volunteer naturalist
Our home is located in a rural area situated on 15 acres with many trees, both deciduous and evergreen.
During this time of year, we truly enjoy the evergreen trees, especially after a fresh snowfall. Here are some of our favorites.
The Eastern hemlock, also known as Canadian hemlock, is from the pine family. It is a common tree that one can see in parks, cemeteries, and neighborhoods throughout our region. They are winter-tolerant and can survive ice and snowstorms better than most conifers. Hemlock trees are slow growing and can reach heights of 70 feet by 35 feet wide.
The arborvitae is a member of the cypress family. It has tiny, scale-like leaves which are fitted close together forming a flattened, fan-like display, which is soft to the touch. It grows in a pyramidal shape and provides excellent shelter for mammals and birds year round. Arborvitae does exceptionally well in colder climates and can grow to heights of 30 feet by ten feet wide. It is a favorite food source of deer and other mammals.
Another favorite is the Norway spruce from the pine family. Although a familiar sight throughout Ohio, it’s really a tree native to Europe, including Norway, for which it is named. It prefers moist, cooler climates and does well exposed to full sun. It can reach heights of 80 feet by 40 feet in spread. It’s not uncommon to see a barred owl roosting in ours.
White pine is found throughout all of Ohio. A fast growing evergreen tree which can achieve height increases of 24 inches per year. Its mature height is 80 feet with a spread of 40 feet. This towering evergreen is a favorite nesting site for woodpeckers, nuthatches and other cavity-nesting birds.
The Colorado spruce, also known as blue spruce with its silvery blue-green coloring is beautiful, but not always a healthy tree in our climate. Though not native to Ohio, it is found throughout the state. Unlike some trees in the pine family, the Colorado spruce limbs branch to the ground throughout their life. This provides excellent shelter for birds and small mammals. It can grow to a height of 50 feet and a spread of 25 feet at maturity.
Trees, whether evergreen or deciduous, provide us with many benefits. They improve quality of air, add value to homes and can reduce heating and cooling costs.
For my family, the abundance of trees on our property provide habitat for many birds and mammals which we enjoy observing.
Evergreens and what they add to landscapes and wildlife habitat is truly amazing.
To learn more about trees, their characteristics, and how to identify them, visit http://forestry.ohiodnr.gov.