Coniferous Forest Plants
"The clearest way into the universe
is through a forest wilderness
{short description of image} - John Muir 
The Coniferous forest is home to acres and acres of evergreen trees. Conifers have needles instead of broad leaves. They do not have flowers or fruits. In late winter or early spring they form two kinds of cones. Cones which have pollen and cones that are fertilized by wind-blown pollen. A spruce tree may keep its needles for fifteen years, while other species may keep theirs for only two or three years. The conifers harden (winterize) in winter, which is a process that makes them more resistant to freezing. Grass grows under the trees where the ground is dry and where there is enough sunlight. Shaded areas grow ferns and mosses. Fungi grow on fallen trees and help old needles and twigs to decompose. Below are photos, facts and links for more information for some of the vegetation found in the Coniferous forests.  
Balsam Tree
Balsam Fir Trees - a medium-sized tree generally reaching 40 to 60 feet in height and 1 to 1 1/2 feet in diameter. The tree name comes from the many resinous blisters found in the bark. These blisters contain a sticky, fragrant, liquid resin. The species is sometimes referred to as "blister pine". The Balsam Fir tree may reach 150 to 200 years of age!
Columbine Flower
Columbines - a graceful plant with red-spurred drooping bell-like flowers with yellow centers from spring through early summer. This flower, native to Manitoba, Ontario, and south Quebec attracts hummingbirds! Aquilegia canadensis (the scientific name) - Aquila translates to "eagle", likely referring to the five talon-like spurs on each bloom, and canadensis means, you guessed it - Canadian!
Ferns - Ferns have been with us for more than 300 million years! The "seeds" of the ferns and fern allies are called Spores. Ferns drop millions, oftentimes billions of spores during their lifetime but very few ever land in a spot suitable for growth!
Black Spruce Tree
Black Spruce Trees - the branches of the Black Spruce tree angle down to prevent breaking under the weight of heavy winter snows. Chickadees will frequent spruce branches to find food, as a perch, or to nest and raise young. You may also see red squirrels, hawks, owls, gray jays, wrens warblers and flycatchers doing the same.
Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy - a woody shrub or vine with hairy looking aerial roots. It grows to 10 feet or more! Its white, waxy berries are a popular food for songbirds during fall migration and in winter when other foods are scarce. Robins, catbirds and grosbeaks especially like the berries. Many birds feed on insects hiding in the tangled vines. Small mammals and deer browse on the poison ivy foliage, twigs and berries.
Larch Tree
Larch Trees - loses its needles in the autumn. This large, handsome tree can grow to 260 feet tall and 850 years of age! It demands full sunlight and grows well on fire-blackened soil. Fire releases nutrients which it uses to grow. The thick bark of mature western larch and its habit of shedding lower branches make this species resistant to fire!
Mushrooms - the Rosy Russula has a bright red to dark red, fading to pink or lavender-pink cap. It sometimes has white or yellow blotches. It has white flesh, a mild odor and a bitter taste. Found beneath pine trees from fall to early spring.
Fireweed - produces large quantities of pollen in winter and early spring. Frequented by honey bees. This American weed is an annual and derives its name from its habit of growing freely in moist open woods and clearings, and in greatest abundance on newly-burnt fallows.
Blue Spruce
Blue Spruce Trees - generally reaches a height of 65 to 115 feet at maturity with a diameter of 2 to 3 feet. It has a narrow, pyramidal shape and cone-shaped crown While blue spruce grows relatively slowly, it is long-lived and may reach ages of 600 to 800 years! It provides cover and seeds for squirrels, rodents and some birds.
Giant Redwood Trees
Giant Sequoia Trees - one of the largest and longest-lived life forms on Earth - some have lived for more than 3,000 years and are still growing! Several factors contribute to the long life of the giant sequoia. Its unusually thick bark is fire-resistant. Giant sequoia seeds do well in a fire-mineralized soil and are shed in greatest numbers after a fire. The tree also contains a natural wood preservative, and is very resistant to disease.
Club Moss
Mosses - usually less than 12 inches tall, Club Moss (pictured) have needle-like leaves. Their use in Christmas wreaths have brought them close to the point of extinction. This group of moss plants are closely related to ferns!
Poison Oak
Poison Oak - in shaded areas, such as in coastal redwoods, the Poison Oak becomes a tall climbing vine, supporting itself on other vegetation or upright objects by means of aerial roots. In early spring the young leaves are green or sometimes light red. In late spring and summer the foliage is glossy green, and later turns attractive shades of orange and red. Contact with poison oak leaves or stems at any time of the year can cause an allergic response in humans.
Aspen Trees
Aspen Trees - thrives in mineral soils and on exposed sites; often grows in dense stands in logged or burned areas. Aspen are small deciduous trees, with smooth green-grey bark. A chalk-like substance can be rubbed off the bark. The white powder from the bark was applied directly to the underarms and feet as a deodorant and anti-perspirant!
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