schmied/reid©2014
Conifers of the Pacific NW Key
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Please read each cuplet on the key closely!

1A. Needles Scale like, OR Needles in bundles of 20 to 50 on spurs, OR (leaves) deciduous, .... Go to 14

1B. Needles are singly on stem or in bundles of 2 to 5 and stay on stems year around, ................. Go to 2

 

2A. Needles in bundles (fascicles) of two to five......................................................................... Pines Go to 3

2B. Needles attached singly to stems ................................................................................................... Go to 5

 

3A. Needles in bundles of two .................................................................................................... Lodgepole Pine

3B. Needles in bundles of three or five.................................................................................................. Go to 4

 

4A. Needles in bundles of three ................................................................................................. Ponderosa Pine

4B. Needles in bundles of five .............................................................................................. Western White Pine

 

5A. Peg like projections left on stems after needles fall off (check small stems), Needles sharp! ..Go to 6

5B. Stems smooth after needles fall off, OR needle joined to stem for about 1/2 of length ............. Go to 9

 

6A. Needles without stalks, sharp pointed needles, feels prickly when grabbed fm end..Spruces ..Go to 7

6B. Needles w/short stalks, flat w/round tips, mixed needle sizes, treetop droops..Hemlocks ........ Go to 8

 

7A. Sharp needles somewhat flattened, lighter color on topsides than bottom........................... Sitka Spruce

7B . Sharp needles four sided, same color on all sides, can "twirl" needles easily........... Engelmann Spruce

 

8A. Needles appearing two ranked on stem, mixed sizes, most about 1/2 inch long ........ Western Hemlock

8B. Needles grow from all sides of stem, < 1" long, often can be twirled w/fingers ...........Mountain Hemlock

 

9A. Needles firmly joined to stem/run down stem for 1/2 length, needles ridged on top............... Pacific Yew

9B. Needles not firmly joined to stem for about 1/2 length................................................................. Go to 10

 

10A. Rounded needle tips, flattened needles come out all around stems, Buds pointed, ........... Douglas Fir

10B. Buds and/or needle tips rounded, smooth round scars where old needles fell off. True Firs .. Go to 11

 

11A. Needles two ranked, go out to each side only, upper and lower surface of twig visible ......... Grand Fir

11B. Needles crowded to upper side of twig ..................................................................................... Go to 12

 

12A. Top stem Needles flat on stem & point fwd, side needles horiz, top green, lower silver........ Pacific Fir

12B. Top stem Needles point or curve up and fwd, some have upper and lwr side whitish............. Go to 13

 

13A. Needles curve like hockey sticks, esp near stem, ends of twigs have rusty red bark.............. Noble Fir

13B. Needles mostly straight, upper ones point up twig bark grayish, short < 4" cones...........Sub alpine Fir

 

14A. Needles in clusters of 20-50 on short side spurs, deciduous-(drop off in Fall)................ Western Larch

14B. Needles Scale like, (look like illustrations below under magnifier) .......................................... Go to 15

 

15A. Twigs round, foliage rounded & prickly, spreading in all directions (see fig. below). ............... Junipers

15B. Twigs flattened, foliage flattened ................................................................................ Cedars - Go to 16

 

16A. Foliage prickly, tree looks wilted, scales shield shaped, narrow.(see fig. below).......... Alaskan Cedar

16B. Foliage glossy, fragrant, with broad, overlapping scales..(see fig. below)..............Western Red Cedar

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