When I visited Dinosaur State Park recently I was very intrigued by the plantings of conifers, of many shapes and colors and growth habits. They were part of an arboretum giving visitors like me an insight into what plants were in existence during the age of the dinosaurs. The earliest fossil record for this division of plants is a very long time ago: 300 million years according to Wikipedia, 140 million according to the park's website. Either date makes them of venerable age, and they arose long before flowering plants. I wandered about, taking photos as I explored their variations. I think my favorite is the Falsecypress above, because of the way it forms overlapping fans like waves flowing outward.
Long cascades of densely needled green and brown branches drop in graceful lines.
|Blue Star Juniper|
Some conifers are low growing, spreading their short blue-green branches outward.
|Japanese Plum Yew|
I thought the needles of this yew were so elegant, with their central dark vein and the way they catch the light on their edges.
|Dwarf Japanese White Pine|
I love the light airy sprays of needles with the reddish exclamation points of growing cones, giving a sense of a soft and delicate mass. The conifers add so much to our northern landscape, giving us green in the midst of winter.
I did have a question that I hope some of my naturalist friends can answer: why are so many conifers named "white"? white spruce, white pine, white fir. Is it because the wood is particularly white?