P&PDL Picture of the Week for
October 30, 2006

Deciduous Conifers

B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulturist, Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

Although most "conifers" are "evergreen", a few species are "deciduous". Confused? Perhaps a review of these terms will help.   

conifer = cone-bearing 
evergreen = retains at least some green foliage year round
deciduous = all leaves die at once and are shed annually

The deciduous conifers we are most likely to see in our area include bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) and larch (Larix sp.) and occasionally dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides). They have striking yellow to orange to reddish brown fall color when all of the needles turn simultaneously.  

Taxodium has needles spirally arranged on deciduous branchlets (see figures to the right).  

Larix has many (30-40) needles attached in bundles on short spurs (see photos here).

Metasequoia has opposite needle arrangement on deciduous branchlets (see photos here).

Click image to enlarge

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum

Taxodium distichum, bald cypress

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service