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Recently Updated Plant Articles

Upper branches of a fir tree showing blue-green foliage and several large, dark grey, upright cones

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)

Updated January 27th, 2023

An evergreen conifer native to North America, and a late-successional species found in areas that have not been disturbed recently. The only fir found in the northeast.

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pine tree with twisted trunk and branches and relatively long needles

Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Updated January 24th, 2023

A scrubby, fire-adapted pine that often grows in harsh conditions, such as dry, acidic, sandy or rocky soil.

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Shortleaf Pine

Shortleaf Pine (Pinus echinata)

Updated January 4th, 2023

A native pine of the southeastern US, growing as a pioneer species, preferring leached soils, more common on dry uplands but found in many conditions.

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Recently Updated Ecoregion Articles

A landscape showing long, dark ridges of mountains in the background and rich green coniferous forest in the foreground
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Western Cordillera »

Canadian Rockies

Updated December 31st, 2022

A long region of rugged mountains extending from northwest Montana through the border of Alberta and British Columbia.

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Middle Rockies
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Western Cordillera »

Middle Rockies

Updated December 8th, 2022

A glaciated region of high mountains, forested slopes, and broad grassy valleys with a severe continental climate.

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Rugged mountains, mostly covered in coniferous forest, under a blue sky, with dry, open grasslands in a valley.
North America » Northwestern Forested Mountains » Western Cordillera »

Idaho Batholith

Updated September 7th, 2022

A rugged mountainous region mostly in central Idaho, mostly covered in coniferous forest with open scrubland at low elevations.

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Recently Updated ID / Comparison Guides

collage of Pitch Pine and Loblolly Pine

Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida) vs. Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda)

Updated January 26th, 2023

These species have only a small range of overlap, but can be easily confused in this region. Both can have yellow-green needles in bundles of three, and both can occur in sandy soil. They are easily distinguished by differences in cones, sprouting, needle length, and form. P. rigida is usually found in dry, barren, fire-prone habitats such as rock outcroppings or excessively-drained sands, whereas P. taeda is most likely on moist, rich sites, and on poorly-drained sites.

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collage of Loblolly Pine and Slash Pine

Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) vs. Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii)

Updated January 24th, 2023

These pines are sometimes confused; both grow on wet, poorly-drained sites and have needles of roughly similar length. They are easily distinguished by bark and growth habit, and can also usually be distinguished by needle count and characteristics of fresh cones. P. taeda ranges farther north and is less fire-tolerant, whereas P. elliotti ranges farther south and is more fire-tolerant.

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collage of Norway Spruce and Caucasian Spruce

Norway Spruce (Picea abies) vs. Caucasian Spruce (Picea orientalis)

Updated January 16th, 2023

These two species are easily confused; both are tall and have dark green foliage and similar bark. They are easily told apart by needles and twigs, cones, and form. Both are widely planted in landscaping in Eastern North America, with Norway spruce more common. Norway spruce has widely established in the wild whereas Caucasian spruce has generally not done so. Both species are shade-tolerant; Norway spruce is more tolerant of poor drainage.

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