Can you tell a pine from a fir? A cedar from a spruce? Just like in my post from a couple of weeks ago, Identifying Trees: A Leaf Tutorial, all of this info and more is given in the extremely useful book Stikky Trees, which will teach you to identify the 15 most popular trees in the US in less than an hour. (You'd think I'd be satisfied with that, but no, I have to go and condense it down to a 5 minute blog post!)
I took a walk today in my neighborhood to see what I could find.
The best way to tell if a tree is a pine or a spruce is to look closely at the needles. If they're attached to the twig in singles, it's a spruce.
Cones on a spruce sag down.
Cones on a fir fly (point up)and they have flat needles.
A Douglas fir breaks the rules: it has cones sagging down with a trident-shaped flag dangling out.
If the needles are longer and bundled into twos, threes, or fives, it's a pine. There are about 115 species of pine.
Another popular evergreen is the cedar - the leaves look more like scales than needles.
What evergreens are in your yard?