Picea abies and Picea orientalis

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by PlantExplorer, Nov 11, 2003.

  1. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Picea IDs

    Hi,

    I have images of a couple of interesting species (?) of Picea that I would like opinions on. The first I believe is P. smithiana, as the cones are very large (20cm in length) and all other aspects seem to point to that ID. Except one – and that is the unusual dentition at the end of the cone scales. I believe that P. smithiana is supposed to have rounded scales. Any ideas? This single specimen at VanDusen (apparently not in any of the accession records) is an extremely attractive tree and it would be great to lock down the correct name.

    Very near the first tree is another Picea that seems a little beyond the average (these trees were planted randomly in a holding area and have since matured). The cones (male and female appearing in May) are bright pink to red and almost cover the tree. The mature female cones are about 8cm in length and tan coloured.

    I realize that this is limited information, but I don’t have specimens in front of me, so I can’t give you proper measurements on needles, male cones, buds etc., but I was hoping someone more familiar with conifers might recognize them right away. If not, I hope to get out to the garden sometime soon, armed with a good key and a tape measure.
     

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  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    I always assumed that that plant was Picea smithiana (Morinda spruce), based on the habit alone. (You are talking about the one at the top of the Rhododendron Walk?) I don't believe there is another Asian spruce with pendulous branchlets and long needles such as those of P. smithiana. I do admit, though, that every reference I have seen notes the entire (not toothed) scales, and those you show are definitely notched. So perhaps it is a hybrid (but with what, and from where?). I believe there is another Morinda spruce at VanDusen, at the west end of the rockery at the north end of the Sino-Himalayan Garden. UBC has P. smithiana (from documented wild collected seed) and the scales are definitely without teeth. Looking at ours (see below), I also don't recall if the needles on the VanDusen plant are as long.

    With respect to the second one with the showy developing cones, the very short, bevelled tipped, dark green needles and the cute little cones remind me of Picea orientalis, of which there was (still is?) a spectacular specimen by the small body of water next to the Heather Garden.

    P.S. Your images are always first-rate, but a scale (or some object for scale) would be very helpful for identification purposes.
     

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  3. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks Douglas, that’s a good idea. Next time I’ll take extra shots with a pencil or small ruler next to the cones.

    As for the two trees, they’re actually in a sort of 'conifer holding area' on the way to the Education Centre. Both trees seem to be superior to their named garden counterparts, in form, habit, and general appearance. P. orientalis sounds good for the tree with the rose coloured cones (it was covered with them to the point that the branches were weighed down with them – really beautiful) but I wasn’t certain – I’m not good with conifers and need to spend a lot more time with them.

    The P. smithiana at the top of the Rhodo walk at the entrance to the Canadian Heritage garden is a wonderful tree, but I think it’s different from the specimen near the Ed Centre. All of these pictures are of the unnamed specimen. Notice the dentition at the tips of the cone scales, like two little teeth at the end of a pointed scale, not the rounded, thicker scale more typical of P. smithiana. The cones here are about 20cm – 8 inches long.

    There is also an unusually attractive Pseudotsuga menziesii in the same holding area, probably P.m. var. glauca

    I’m getting the distinct feeling that there are some forgotten treasures in this area, some of which are worthy of closer scrutiny.
     

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  4. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Looking at the cones of the larger spruce, I think the trees must be Picea abies. Perhaps P. abies f. viminalis. See van Gelderen and van Hoey Smith (Conifers, Timber Press, 1989) They say this cultivated plant is also found in the wild. This website also has an image.

    The blue form of Douglas fir is really a cracker! I've seen it in the Rockies in Colorado and in New Mexico, where it's sometimes as blue as Picea pungens. Unfortunately, it's also really susceptible to rabdocline needle cast here and tends to lose its lower needles, especially on bare soil where rainsplash is an issue.

    Obviously, it's time to re-explore that part of VanDusen.
     
  5. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Wow, I think you nailed it!

    I was so busy looking for something terribly exotic that I totally overlooked a more familiar species (although I use the term loosely, since I’m not very familiar with any conifers yet).

    And I agree that the Blue Douglas Fir is a winner – particularly the specimen near the Ed Centre, since it appears to have little or no defoliation due to disease. I’m not sure if this is because it’s managed to dodge the bullet, or if it is actually a resistant specimen. I’ll get the Seed Collectors to send some samples your way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2003
  6. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Adding this link:

    Picea abies from the Gymnosperm Database at Bonn University. Click on the illustration in the upper left of the page - definitely worth it.
     
  7. PlantExplorer

    PlantExplorer Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks - I'll bring in specimens some time tomorrow, I have a feeling that some of these trees may be unnamed selections.
     

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