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Softwood Trees

Nova Scotia has 10 native softwoods or conifers- Red, black, and white spruce, balsam fir, white, red and Jack pine, hemlock, eastern larch also known as tamarack, and eastern cedar.
In addition there are several introduced species, such as Scotch pine, Austrian pine, Norway spruce and Colorado blue spruce.


Eastern Larch (Tamarack)
Tamarack has the hardest wood of the native conifers. It will tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions, but due to its intolerance to shade it is often found growing near swamps and marshes where many other tree species cannot survive.
Tamarack is unique in that it is the only softwood that completely sheds its needles on an annual basis. In the late autumn glow it presents a stunning sight when the needle leaves turn a golden hue colour.

Planting Benefits
Tamarack will survive in damp areas with acidic soil.
The cones provide seed for finches, siskins and crossbills.
A fast growing tree that can grow up to 70 ft on fertile land.
The wood is often used for fence posts and can easily last up to 10 years buried in the ground without preservatives.

Planting Tips
Tamarack has fibrous roots and is relatively easy to transplant.
Does well in damp, cool areas.
It has a very low tolerance for shade.


Eastern Hemlock
A massive and majestic tree of the Acadian forest.
A stand of old-growth Hemlock is a memorable sight. Such a stand can be viewed on protected islands in the Tobeatic Wilderness area. Well worth the time and effort spent to reach this destination and to reflect and marvel at the age and size of these majestic trees.

Planting Benefits
A long lived tree 300-500 years.
Does well in cool environments on North facing slopes.
Responds well to clipping - a line of young hemlock can easily be trimmed into a hedge.
Retains its lower branches which can provide winter shelter for wildlife.

Planting Tips
Easily grown from seed and transplants well.
Tolerates shade and a wide variety of soil type.

Eastern Hemlock

Eastern Cedar
Cedar is a slow growing, long-lived tree with a pronounced conical shape. It can reach 50ft in height and live for 350 years.
The leaves are scalelike in appearance and overlap to form a dense, dark yellow-green foilage. The bark is dark brown and shreddy with an obvious taper to the trunk.

Planting Benefits
Often planted in yards as an ornamental.
The wood is strong and light with excellent decay resistance.
Cedar shavings are fragrant and often used for pet bedding, or can be loosely bagged and placed in a trunk to impart their scent to stored items.
Cedar is easily clipped and shaped to form a cedar hedge, or a yard centre-piece.
The overlapping foilage provides nesting cover and winter shelter for various small birds.

Planting Tips
Cedar does best in an alkaline to neutral soil, but they will grow in less favourable soil types. I have a few cedars growing along the northern edge of my wild blueberry field and more in my front yard.
It Is moderately shade tolerant and has a long-reaching root system capable of tolerating extreme sites, such as cliff faces.

Red Pine
A fast growing pine that can reach 80ft in height and live for 200 years. The needles are long and brittle, bundled in pairs. Red Pine bark is flaky and reddish brown in young trees. As the tree ages the bark forms flat, plate like structures on the trunk.

Planting Benefits
Suited to restoration of dry,poor soils and acidic lands. Ideal for planting in clearings and old fields, in parks and open areas.
The root system is relatively deep and wide-spreading which helps to secure the tree in high winds.
Often used for Christmas wreaths.
The seed is a favourite food of the pine siskin,chickadees and nuthatches.

Planting Tips
Red pine requires an open location with adequate light and does well in acidic,sandy soils.

White Pine
The tallest of eastern softwoods. White pine can reach 115ft in height with a 4ft diameter at chest height. This tree was much sought after and used as masts for sailing ships in the late 1700s.
An easy identifcation method is W:H:I:T:E consists of five letters, which is the same amount of needles bundled on a twig. Red pine, Jack pine, Scotch pine and Austrian pine all have needles bundled in two's.

Planting Benefits
Is moderately shade tolerant and can be underplanted in existing woodlots.

White pine
Austrian Pine  
Colorado Spruce