Wanted: Big conifer that will take cold winters

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by Ken R, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. Ken R

    Ken R Active Member

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    I have a colleague who is a forester in NW Russia. He visited the Pacific Northwest in May and was taken with the tall trees. He lives in a land of birches and Scots pine. He would like to find trees to plant around his summer house near the White Sea that years from now might grow as large as the trees he saw in western Oregon.

    The problem, of course, is the winter cold. He tells me that an average winter could see a temperature of -20 C at his cottage. A bad winter could see -37 C.

    So, any suggestions on what large North American conifers would tolerate that cold?

    Also, he will probaby need to import the seed rather than a growing plant, so any suggestions about seed sources would be welcome.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Sorry, there aren't any that are adapted to that climate. Big trees like those need a warmer climate to succeed. The North American species that are adapted to that type of climate (e.g. Lodgepole Pine, White Spruce) are of similar size to Scots Pine.
     
  3. Ken R

    Ken R Active Member

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    Well, that's discouraging, but important to know.

    I have an old US Department of Agriculture handbook that lists ponderosa pine as growing in places where the minimum temperature reaches -40 F, and Douglas-fir as growing in places where the temperature reaches -30 F, but I guess there is a difference between surviving and thriving. Also I suppose you can't tell the whole climate picture from only the minimum temperature.

    Thanks, Michael.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, there's more to it than winter minima - summer temperatures and the length of the growing season are also important. Up around the White Sea, spring and snowmelt doesn't arrive until late May, and the first autumn frosts are coming in by late August, giving only about 3 months growing season. Not long enough for the shoots of Ponderosa Pine or Douglas-fir to mature and set viable winter buds.

    By contrast, where you get medium-large cold tolerant interior Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir (interior southern BC), there's 4-5 months growing season, and where the really big trees are in the mild-winter coastal forests, it's more like 6-7 months growing season.

    Checked up on some Finnish info I've got, they can only grow Ponderosa Pine and Douglas-fir in the south of Finland, not in the north; roughly comparable to the St Petersburg area, a long way south of the White Sea
     
  5. Ken R

    Ken R Active Member

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    Well, thanks again, Michael. The Finnish study sounds de-fin-itive. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

    I'll direct my colleague to this forum page to bring him up to speed. Perhaps he will opt for Lodgepole just to have a North American species, or perhaps he'll look for other landscaping ideas.
     
  6. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    I've seen mature Douglas Fir in Banff (cold Alberta Rockies). They are not the huge trees of the West coast mind you but they do occur naturally in an area where the record low temperature for every month is below freezing and the all time low is -51ºC.

    In Edmonton, Ponderosa Pine, Norway Spruce, Eastern White Pine, and Austrian Pine (barely) join the more common Lodgepole and Scots Pine, Engleman & Blue spruce, as well as various Larix. Their all time low is -44ºC though it wasn't recent & only July has a record low above freezing.

    Simon
     
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Hi Simon,

    Unfortunately, not very comparable - Banff and Edmonton have climates similar to southern Finland. What's needed is trees that will grow in a climate comparable to that of e.g. Echo Bay, Great Bear Lake (NWT/Inuvik). The White Sea area is similarly close to the arctic tundra, and there are very few trees that will survive in those conditions.
     

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