deciduous trees

Deciduous & Coniferous Trees

What’s the Difference Between Coniferous and Deciduous Trees? 1 Simple Rule Explained:

The difference between coniferous trees and deciduous trees is whether their leaves “fall” or not. Deciduous trees and shrubs (Latin decidere to fall off) have leaves that fall off each year. Coniferous trees (Latin cone-bearing) and evergreens have cones and needles that stay on during the winter. Like all good rules of thumb there are a few exceptions, called deciduous conifers. These have cones AND needles but shed them every year! Here’s some examples:

List of Deciduous Conifer Trees

  • Golden Larch Tree (Pseudolarix amabilis).
  • Swamp Cypress Tree (Taxodium).
  • Chinese Water Fir Tree (Gylptostrobus pensilis).
  • Dawn Redwood Tree (Metasequoia glyptostroboides).

ADDucation Tips: Click column headings with arrows to sort coniferous and deciduous trees. Click the + icon to show any hidden columns. Set your browser to full screen and zoom out to show as many columns as possible. Start typing in the Filter table box to find coniferous and deciduous trees inside the table.

Tree Type Latin / Botanical Trunk & Bark Leaf / Needle Shape Tree Identifying Features
Acacia Deciduous Acacia Genus Thin, dark trunk with bark furrows. Leaflets replaced after dropping by a sheet-like stalk. There are about 1200 species most of which grow in Australia and Africa. In Europe, the ball acacia often grows in sunny gardens.
Alder Trees
Deciduous Alnus Genus Often multi-stemmed and with gray fungus. Round, with a small notch at the top, from September brown, hanging catkins. Grows along streams, rivers and lakes, The common alder has several black stems and their leaves are sticky.
Apple Trees Deciduous Malus Genus Strong trunk with thorny branches. Ovate pointed leaves with serrated edge. A small tree (up to 10m) with pink buds and white flowers in April/May. The apples don’t ripen until September.
Ash Trees
Deciduous Fraxinus Genus Slender trunk with gray, fissured bark. 4-5 paired, feathery leaves on a 30 cm long stem. Up to 40 m high, imposing tree with leaf seeds that hang in dense clusters on the branches. Grows best in permanently moist soil.
Aspen Deciduous Fagus Genus Smooth, gray-green bark which forms thick, cracked bark. Roundish, coarsely serrated leaves with long stem on brown-yellow branches. Up to 30 m high, narrow growth, often planted along roads, leaves tremble in the wind.
Beech Trees
Deciduous Fagus Genus Smooth, silver-gray trunk with strong chord-like veins. Ovate, pointed leaves with serrated/wavy edge on a very short stem. 20-30 m imposing deciduous trees  with protruding crown. Seeds with 3-lobed wings in bunches. Fruit: bitter tasting beechnuts in a small tri-angled husk.
Birch Deciduous Betula Genus Shiny white, smooth trunk often with a cracking bark, 20-30m high. Triangular, with serrated edge, hanging catkins from April/May. The thin, overhanging branches of the birch give it a delicate appearance but it is durable and virtually indestructible.
Cedar Trees
Coniferous Cedrus Genus Grey trunk is multi-stemmed near the bottom. Upright, ovoid cones, evergreen needles grow spirally. Sun-loving trees with a broad canopy, hardly need any rain. Strongly scented wood, seed flight in September.
Cherry Trees
Deciduous Prunus Genus Thin, red-brown trunk marked by cork rings. Oval pointy leaves with serrated edge. Maximum 30 m tall, often grows on the forest edge, from April/May white blossom, cherries from July.
Douglas Fir Coniferous Pseudotsuga Genus Bark coated with resin blisters. Hanging cones (4-10 cm), green, soft needles standing individually. Evergreen up to 60-100 m tall, maximum age 400-1400 years, blossom in the northern hemisphere: April-May.
Elm Deciduous Ulmus Genus Mighty trunk with rough, ribbed bark. Rough, oval leaves, asymmetric with 1 (sometimes 3) peaks. Up to 40 m, widely branched, rounded crown with dense, spherical flower clusters from April/May. Dutch elm disease wiped out millions of trees in Europe & North America.
Fir Coniferous Abies Genus Thin, silver-gray trunk. Dull, soft needles with projecting cones. Up to 80 m tall forest tree often growing in mountains. Cones stand like candles and don’t drop to the ground, only the scales do.
Horse Chestnut Deciduous Aesculus Genus Short, massive trunk with drooping branches. 5-7 finger-like leaflets with candle-shaped inflorescences. Densely-growing (park) trees with white flowers from April and prickly husks containing horse chestnuts in October.
Larch Coniferous* Larix genus Straight trunk with horizontal branches. Needles in small bunches with small, spherical standing cones. 35-40 m tall conifer which is only green in summer. From October golden-yellow needles which are later discarded, which is unusual for conifer trees. Larch trees often grow in mountains.
Linden Deciduous Tilia Genus Mighty trunk with brown, fissured bark. Heart-shaped with serrated edges and hairy, often sticky underside. Up to 40 m tall, stately trees with wide, protruding crown and sweet-scented flowers (June) and spherical fruits (September).
Locust Trees
Deciduous Robinia Genus Initially rod-shaped, later – gnarled robust trunk. Up to 19 individual leaflets on a long stalk. Sun-loving and cold-sensitive tree with white flowers in strongly fragrant hanging racemes. Major source of honey in USA. Popular in European parks as pollution-resistant.
Maple Tree
Deciduous Acer Genus Grayish-brown to dark brown bark 3-5 pointed leaves, smooth, dull edges (flag of Canada). Up to 30 m tall with elongated crown, yellowish-green winged fruits (April / May) later popularly known as “helicopters” (September / October).
Oak Tree
Deciduous Quercus Genus Thick trunk with longitudinal cracking bark. Elongated leaves with edges often indented. Knotty, virtually indestructible and up to 40 m tall tree with acorns in cups.
Pear Tree Deciduous Pyrus Genus Dark, cracked bark on a thin trunk. Almost round, dark green, glossy leaves with smooth edges. Up to 20 m tall, slender tree with white flowers in dense clusters from April / May. Pears edible only from the fall.
Pine Coniferous Pinus Genus Tall, slim trunk with brown, fissured bark. Soft needles grow in pairs or in clumps, strong, shiny cone. Pyramid-shaped crown (reminiscent of giant broccoli), 12-20 m high, very fragrant trees mostly standing alone. Fruit: pine nuts.
Poplar Deciduous Populus Genus Smooth white, green or grey bark on young trees. Later the bark becomes rough and in some types, and fissured in others. Spirally arranged leaves, mostly triangular or circular with a long stalk. Grows to between 15–50 m tall. Trunks up to 2.5 m diameter. Popular as ornamental trees on account of quick growth.
Rowan Deciduous Sorbus Genus Multi-stemmed trunk with wild branching. 11-15 pinnate leaves with serrated edge on a long stalk. Up to 12 m tall deciduous trees with a broad crown, tiny white flower blossom starting in May / June, ripe red berries from August.
Scots Pine Coniferous Pinus sylvestris Twisted trunk with lengthy cracked, reddish bark. Prickly needles grow in pairs, 40-60 mm long. Knotty, evergreen tree, ovoid cones hanging with hard scales, when older umbrella-shaped tops.
Spruce Coniferous Picea Genus Spruce trees have a reddish gray trunk with scaly bark. Pointed prickly needles, 10-30 mm long The 30-50 m tall evergreen tree grows hat-shaped, has pointed tops and elongated hanging cones that fall as a whole.
Sycamore Deciduous Platanus Genus Sycamore trees have yellow-brown bark which peels off in great flakes. Five-lobed leaves which resemble the maple leaf. Popular street and park tree with spherical fruits on long stems. Often pruned in winter.
Willow Deciduous Salix Genus Willow trees have a thin trunk with deep cracking, gray bark. Silver shiny, oblong leaves with smooth edges on a short stem. Gray and white willow are found near streams, rivers or lakes. Seeds hang from cotton-like threads.
Yew Coniferous Taxus Genus Yew trees are often multi-stemmed with reddish bark. Soft, pliable, dark green needles on horizontal branches. Small trees (10-20 m) with a rounded crown, often grown as a shrub esp. in churchyards. Red, bell-shaped fruit from September. Almost everything on a yew tree is toxic.

* This conifer is a deciduous conifer tree. They’re unusual because, despite being conifer trees, they drop their needles and cones every year – like deciduous trees. This makes it harder to tell if they are coniferous trees or deciduous trees.

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One response to “Deciduous & Coniferous Trees”

  1. shameela says:

    I like this site

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