What’s In Bloom

24, Jan, 2012 Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy

Enjoy the silhouettes of our bare deciduous trees and shrubs, the waxy leaves and slender needles of our Evergreens, colors of foliage and bark left in the landscape, buds of spring growth waiting to emerge, and seed-bearing structures of all kinds. Some of the most loved and easily noticed reproductive organs are those of coniferous trees and shrubs. Conifers are a division of plants within the group known as ‘Gymnosperms’, which bear scaled, woody cones in which the seeds are produced. In the history of plant evolution, Conifers can be traced back to the ‘Progymnosperms’ of the Late Devonian period, some 380 million years ago. We have a variety of conifers in our parks, and while a few of them have not yet reached reproductive maturity, many of them are bearing cones, much to our delight!

Lacebark Pine (Pinus Bungeana)

In Chinatown our most prized conifer is the Lacebark Pine, or Pinus bungeana, which was featured last month. The cones of this tree have distinctive rectangular, spined scales.                                                                                –   Pinus bungeana cone detail

Tanyosho Pine (Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’)

The Fort Point Channel Parks are home to a few of our more prolific cone-bearers, the Tanyosho Pines, which were also highlighted in last month’s blog. Their small ovular cones occur alone or more often in dense clusters.

                            –   Pinus densiflora ‘Umbraculifera’ cones

Vanderwolf’s Pyramid Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’)

One of our larger conifer specimens, this plant can be seen in Fort Point Channel Parks. This particular tree has not put out cones yet, but its bluish-green needles and stout, pyramidal form can be enjoyed throughout all seasons.

                            –   Pinus flexilis ‘Vanderwolf’s Pyramid’needles

Japanese White Pine (Pinus parviflora)

A variety of coniferous trees reside in the Urban Arboretum. Many of these beautiful cone-bearers can be found on the knoll in the North Eastern section of the parcel. This one in particular is a popular evergreen tree in our New England landscape due to its salt tolerance. It bears brownish-red cones up to 4 inches long. Our specimen is still young and unique in form, but already it is bearing attractive cones. We observed clusters of young cones, small and closed before they become open at maturity.

                            –   Pinus parviflora young cones

                                         –   Pinus parviflora mature cones

Frasier Fir (Abies fraseri)

Just beside the Japanese White Pine sits this intriguing plant, decorated with short green needles. Frasier Firs are commonly used as Christmas trees or as specimen trees in the landscape. The medium-sized brown cones disintegrate as they mature to release their seeds, as can be seen on our specimen. Next time you’re strolling through the Parks we invite you to observe the natural color of this traditional gem.

                            –   Abies fraseri cones

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus ‘Shaggy Dog’)

Other conifers to be enjoyed along the Greenway include Yews, Junipers, and Spruces, as well as a meandering variety of Eastern White Pine known as ‘Shaggy Dog’ (Pinus strobus ‘Shaggy Dog’), which can be seen in the Fort Point Channel Parks winding its way along the ground.

                            –   Pinus strobus ‘Shaggy Dog’