Not Your Average Pinecone


When your average person sees any tree with cones, they often mistakenly refer to them as pinecones. A visit to the arboretum in late winter teaches us that they aren’t all pinecones – there are many other cone-bearing conifers out there. This is the best time of year to see just how many different types you can find.

Some of the largest cones that I’ve personally seen at the arboretum are on the Sonderegger Pine (Pinus x sondereggeri). Astonishingly, some are the size of baseballs, even softballs, high up on the prickly branches.




In contrast, the drooping branches of the Weeping Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis var. pendula) contain small, almost fairy-sized, light brown cones. This is considered a “dwarf” conifer and is one of many that were planted at the arboretum in about 1905.




The Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica) cones look like fuzzy, reddish, caterpillars as they emerge, crawling across the needles.




The cones of the Acrocona Norway Spruce (Picea abies 'Acrocona') cascade gracefully from the tips of the branches. They start off as a showy red, turning a natural tan color as they mature.




Not all cones resemble the same general look or shape of a pinecone. For instance the Eastern Arborvitae (Thuga occidentalis cv. DT No.2 cupressaceae) cones look more like tiny, brown flowers and Lawson Falsecyprus (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) cones appear more similar to shriveled, dried berries than pinecones.




There are many other varieties of interesting conifers to discover at the arboretum, all bearing their own type of cones. Want to learn more about these and other conifers? Register for the “100 Years of Collecting: Conifers at the Morris Arboretum” class that is being held on Thursday, March 10.


Our sincerest thanks to Guest Blogger Kristen Bower.