So, remember a few posts ago when I made up a game to go outside and identify every tree I see, but I had to give it up because it's February? And nothing has leaves? I remembered later this doesn't apply to evergreens! Evergreens are still out there, and actually much more easy to point out, now that everything else is bare.
So. This is the knowledge I gathered from various sources from the internet!
Pines have long needles and they grow together in bunches, their silhouette is rounded at the edges, distinct and easy to recognize.
Spruce's branches are always pointed up, and grow upwards. Their needles grow in all directions out of the branches. Their needles also have 4 sides to them, and are easy to roll between fingers.
Fir's needles grow only to the left and right, and leave the middle of the branch exposed. The back of the needles have 2 white lines. Their lower branches point down.
Yew's needles are soft to touch, their color is more vibrant than the other evergreens, they grow red berries on them. Their needles also only grow from the sides, and not in the middle. Yew is the poisonous one that must not be mistaken for the rest!
With this info in my mind, I set off! This is the first evergreen tree I found, right in front of the building. I never tried to figure out what it was before.
It looks majestic. What I can see here, is needles growing in every direction from the little tip I took off, so I decided it has to be spruce.
The next tree I noticed was in someone's backyard, but I wouldn't let that deter me! It was big and noticeable from far away! So. I sneaked in to take a picture:
Isn't it beautiful? This one also has needles growing from all directions, so it has to be another spruce. But, this one also has some tiny cones growing? I noted that as interesting, and moved on to the next.
Then I saw these two in people's backyard:
And I thought, well what are these? At first I thought, cypress, but these are obviously two different things, and they seem to be bushes at that, and I didn't research any bush varieties, so I had to let that go for now. If anyone can tell me their names I would love that!
And then I found lots more of similar trees!
They were definitely planted for decoration, and they're planted all together, but some of them have kind of a purple berry (cone?) growing on them, while some don't, and I'm not sure if they're the same species. Though I do think sometimes trees will grow their fruit only from the side that is more exposed to the sun, so it's possible the branches without berries are just underexposed to the light.
So the next several trees I found were spruces, or so it seems. I'm starting to get suspicious, because first, why didn't I know we were in a spruce-supremacy biome, second, why do all of these trees look so different? Look at them:
Look how janky some of them look! That is fun! Is that really a spruce? They all had needles growing in all directions, and the tips of their branches pointing up, but I'm starting to get suspicious and feel like these are different varieties of trees and we just called them all 'spruce' and moved on.
Then I, on purpose, went to the place with pines, where I usually harvest my pine needles for tea. This is, one of the most beautiful pines in the city:
This is not even a good picture of her, this being is divine. She's about the only thing that makes this place livable, every time I see her I'm astounded and filled with awe, she's so gorgeous and lush and perfect? Her shape? The feeling of being closer to heaven when you look at her? She has it all. I don't even know how they made that gorgeous tree grow next to such an ugly building. Anyway.
Close by is a little park made out of pine trees, I was able to find a little pine cone! And here are the pine needles:
These can be eaten, added into meals, they can be made into syrups, tinctures, and they make a very calming tea! You can also weave a basket with them, which I did once! Blessed source of life.
Spruce and Fir needles are also edible and medicinal, but I've never tried them, so I'm not gonna talk about that yet. But here's whats NOT edible. The deadly yew tree:
She's so soft to touch, it's almost impossible not to recognize. If you touch an evergreen and it's super soft and pliable, do not eat it! She's also beautiful and vibrant with her colors, I took pictures of this tree before, just because it was so pretty. You can see the needles also grow only on the sides, and not in every direction like the spruce.
And then, I noticed this tree from the road, and it was Different from all of the others. Firstly, it was growing new shoots, which most of the others were not into. Second, it looked super lush and healthy. I couldn't back out further to take a better picture because of the cars behind me, but I grabbed a little shoot, and checked it.
And see these needles how they're only growing to the sides, and not from the middle? And when you turn the needles on the other side, I know you can't see it, but there were 2 white lines on them! I've found a Fir!
That was the first, and the only fir I've found. I was so happy, relieved, and thrilled to find, all 4 evergreen species in walking distance of my residence. I also was pleased to know that my methods of recognition were true, firs really do have white lines on the underside of needles. Who knew!
Now, these are not all of the trees I've found, but the rest I found only gave me more questions than answers. I've found some baby spruces that looked completely different, like this:
And while I do find these adorable, I wanna know why are they so different? Is it because they're tiny? They look more lush and healthy, is it because they're cared for or they're different, imported species? Why is that last tree in the middle of cone production, while the other spruces are after different businesses? If this is a matter of different varieties then I'm personally offended nobody explained this to me.
Also, I found this bush? And it smelled? Incredible??
The scent of this was thousandfold the power of any other plant. Smelling this transported me into a thousand old forest and underground. After touching this, my entire hand smelled like it for the rest of my trip, I could smell nothing else. It was pine-like but also plant like, and deeper, stronger, like I was smelling not the ends of the plant but the middle of a tree, the center, the roots and the soil. I took a bit of it home to smell. I think it will do me good. Further research revealed that this is a juniper bush, well known for its intense and overpowering scent!
I'm happy to report that this tree ID mission has cured my anxiety for the day, made me feel like a sneaky little secret scientist, gave me special inside knowledge of the evergreen tree society around me and had me meet some awesome trees! I also found some I didn't even know were growing close to me. I looked into making the syrup from the needles, but found out it required outrageous amount of sugar, so I gave up on it. I'm going to use little branches and shoots I took to make tea out of all of the edible plants instead.