Many types of trees remain green as well as functional for at least one season. Most of them are those that produce cones, especially during the cold season. Like many important trees that drop their leaves in cold times, conifers can be easily identified by their foliage, shaped like needles. They lose their leaves in winter; however, this process is very slow compared to other deciduous plants. These trees have characteristics that differentiate one species of conifer from another species. The pine tree and spruce are among the most common ones in this tree family of Pinaceae.
Pines and spruce are commonly found in the Temperate Northern Hemisphere regions as well as in snowy mountains. Their cones are made up of covers that appear like scales attached to a central stalk. In between these scales are seeds that are protected which are non-fruit bearing in nature. The cones do not disintegrate while on the tree to release seed but instead fall off whole from the twigs or branches. These conifers have crowns that appear like pyramids, and as they age, their trunks gain scaly barks. Pulp, as well as softwood that is used in building, are produced by these trees.
Though spruce and pines are closely related, differences exist that make it easy to identify them. The leaves of spruce are shorter as well as stiffer when compared with those of the pine. The spruce leaf is directly attached to the twig by a stalk-like hard woody base. In contrast, pine needles are limp, a feature that gives them the ability to produce a whispering sound when the wind blows through them. Spruce get corrugated on their thin scaly barks as they grow old, giving them a rough feel on touch. When pines are young, their barks are smooth, but as growth continues, they acquire a red-brown tinge before peeling off.
There are only thirty-five species of spruce on the planet, while pines are about one hundred and seventy different species. While a spruce twig contains only one leaf, a single twig of pine bears a cluster of between two and five needles. Cones of pines have thick, tough and rigid scales, while spruce have comparatively flexible as well as thinner. Spruce branches are numerous when compared to those of pine, which are fewer. They are turned upwards, giving the spruce a symmetrical pyramidal shape. The branches of pines are arranged in a spiral manner on the trunk, and the tree appears asymmetrical compared to the spruce.
Besides producing timber and pulp from the trunk, spruce has a perfect conical shape that makes them popularly used for ornamental purposes such as preparing Christmas trees. Trunks of pines are very straight, big, and long, making them suitable for softwood used in furniture making as well as for pulp or turpentine. Pinewood is usually cheap as well as readily available when compared to spruce. The appearance of timber from a pine tree is dark red with yellow to white lines. Timber from spruce bears a cream to white tinge but stronger than that of pine. This quality makes them suitable for making musical instruments such as violins.
Although pine timber is weaker than spruce, it contains a lot of resin that makes products more durable than those made from spruce. The leaf of young pines produces excellent teas, which are tasty, containing vitamin C and vitamin A. Fresh shoots from the spruce are rich in vitamin C, which is why they were used for producing beers in the past, which was used to supplement this vitamin to sailors on long voyages. The pinus species are more resistant to decay than the spruce or the Picea.
Spruce and pines do not change color but retain their greenness throughout the year. They usually drop their needles during less conducive conditions like in the winter to minimize loss of moisture. Their leaves are also referred to as needles because of the thinness as well as their shape. Major differences in shape, quality of wood, durability, and usage exist between these two conifers. For more durable furniture like desks, wood from pines is the most preferred. If the use is ornamental or for making musical instruments like pianos, then spruce is the better option.